Let it be ‘Jai Hind!’ or “Vande Mataram!” most of the popular patriotic slogans thrown around today probably have their origins in the Indian independence movement.
Some of these slogans have also been invoked in the present day, such as “Inquilab Zindabad” during the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare in 2011, and the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests of late 2019. But how did these calls first are born, and where do they come from? Inspirational and controversial, we explain the history of slogans that have endured in Indian politics.
1. ‘Jai Hind’ by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose of Bengal popularized ‘Jai Hind’ as a greeting for soldiers of his Indian National Army (INA), who fought alongside Netaji’s ally Japan in World War II. But according to some accounts, Netaji did not invent the slogan.
In his 2014 book, “Lengendotes of Hyderabad”, former civil servant Narendra Luther said the term was coined by Zain-ul Abideen Hasan, the son of a collector from Hyderabad, who went to study in Germany. There, he meets Bose and ends up abandoning his studies to join the INA. His great-nephew, Anvar Ali Khan, later wrote that Khan had been instructed by Bose to seek a salute or military salute for INA soldiers, a slogan that was not specific to any caste or race. community, given the pan-Indian base of the INA. .
Luther’s book indicates that Hasan originally suggested “Hello”, which was rejected by Bose. According to Anvar Ali Khan, the idea for “Jai Hind” came to Hasan when he was at Königsbruck camp in Germany. He heard two Rajput soldiers greeting each other with the slogan “Jai Ramji ki”. This led to the idea of ’Jai Hindustan ki’ in his mind and it was later shortened to ‘Jai Hind’, the term meaning ‘Long live India’ or a call to fight for India.
2. ‘Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga’ by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
According to the book ‘Subhas Chandra Bose: The Nationalist and the Commander – What Netaji Did, What Netaji Said’ edited by Vanitha Ramchandani, the slogan originated in a speech given by Netaji in Myanmar, then called Burma, on July 4, 1944.
“Britons are engaged in a global struggle and in that struggle they have suffered defeat after defeat on so many fronts. The enemy having been thus considerably weakened, our fight for freedom has become much easier than it was five years ago,” he said, encouraging the Indians to take advantage of the opportunity presented by World War II.
He added: “Such a rare and God-given opportunity comes once in a century… with the help of the generous Nippon, it has become possible for East Asian Indians to obtain arms to build a modern army”, as support for East Asia. countries like Japan (called Nippon in Japanese) was a strategy he believed in.
Emphasizing his core philosophy that violence is necessary to achieve independence, he said, “Friends! My comrades of the War of Liberation! Today, I ask you one thing above all. I ask you for blood. Only blood can avenge the blood the enemy has shed. It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom,” ending the sentiment with “Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga” (Give me blood and I promise you freedom).
3. ‘Vande Mataram’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterji
The term refers to a sense of respect expressed towards the homeland. In 1870, the Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote a song that would take on national stature, but would also be considered divisive by some.
Written in Bengali, the song titled “Vande Mataram” would not be introduced into the public sphere until the publication of the novel Anandamath in 1882, of which the song is a part. Vande Mataram will soon be at the forefront of sentiments expressed during the liberation movement.
The novel Anandmath, set in the early 1770s against the backdrop of the Fakir-Sannyasi rebellion against the British in Bengal, came at a time of Bengal’s agrarian crisis when the region was hit by three famines one after another. Chattopadhyay’s novel held the Muslim Nawab responsible for the atrocious circumstances, claiming that it was the Nawab bowing to the East India Company that caused such a situation. After the end of British rule, the song was in contention to be the national anthem, but was criticized by some and ended up becoming the national song instead.
4. Inquilab Zindabad by Maulana Hasrat Mohani
‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (Long Live the Revolution) was first used by Maulana Hasrat Mohani in 1921. Historian S Irfan Habib, writing in The Indian Express, said that Mohani (1875-1951) was born in a city called Mohan in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. Hasrat was his pen name (takhallus) as an Urdu revolutionary poet, which also became his identity as a political leader. Hasrat Mohani was a trade union leader, scholar, poet and also one of the founders of the Communist Party of India in 1925.
Along with Swami Kumaranand – also involved in the Indian communist movement – Mohani first raised the demand for complete independence or ‘Poorna Swaraj’, at the 1921 session of Congress in Ahmedabad. He was later elected a member of the Constituent Assembly and was also a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee with Dr BR Ambedkar.
His focus on Inquilab was inspired by his urge to fight social and economic inequality, as well as colonialism. Before Mohani coined this slogan, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia made the idea of revolution the symbol of struggle for oppressed nationalities around the world.
It was from the mid-1920s that this slogan became a battle cry of Bhagat Singh and his Naujawan Bharat Sabha, as well as his Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Bhagat Singh also wished for a social revolution to break age-old discriminatory practices. This slogan had great popularity when he and BK Dutt dropped bombs in the Assembly on April 8, 1929 and shouted it.
5. “Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna” by Bismil Azimabadi
“Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil men hai, dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-qatil men hai” (Our hearts yearn now to die for a good cause, that we will see what strength the arms of killers possess), are the first two lines of a poem written by Bismil Azimabadi, a freedom fighter and poet from Bihar, after the 1921 Jallianwalah Bagh massacre in Amritsar, Punjab. In the poem, the line “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil men hai” is repeated, and both lines have often been used in Hindi films with patriotic themes.
The lines were popularized by Ram Prasad Bismil, another revolutionary. They convey a deep desire to confront an enemy, a spirit seen in how Bismil, an Urdu poet and revolutionary, participated in major events that lifted the spirits of other freedom fighters at the time. He was part of the Kakori Train Robbery, a successful and ambitious operation in which a train full of British goods and money was robbed for Indian fighters to buy arms.
6. “Do or Die” by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
In 1942, with the start of the Second World War and the failure of the Stafford Cripps missions – which only promised India “dominion status” where she would still have to pledge allegiance to the King of England -, it was realized that the movement for freedom should be intensified.
On August 8, 1942, the All India Congress Committee met at Gowalia Tank Maidan (August Kranti Maidan) in Bombay. Gandhi addressed thousands of people after the meeting to explain the way forward. He told the people that he would firmly present his demands to the Viceroy, saying, “I will not settle for anything less than complete freedom. Perhaps he will propose the abolition of the gabelle, etc. But I will say: ‘Nothing less than freedom’”.
He then told people what to do: “Here is a mantra, a short one, that I give to you. Imprint it on your hearts, so that with each breath you give it expression. The mantra is: “Do or die”. Either we will liberate India or we will die trying; we will not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery.
Later, some organized protesters adopted more violent methods, blowing up bridges, cutting telegraph wires and dismantling railway lines. In Bihar and UP, a full-fledged rebellion began, with slogans of ‘Thana jalao’, ‘Station phoonk do’ which demanded the burning of police stations and railway stations, and ‘ Angrez bhaag gaya hai’ (Englishman ran away). Trains were stopped, taken over and national flags were affixed to them.
seven. “Leave India” by Yusuf Meherally
As Gandhi sounded the clarion call “Quit India,” the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as mayor of Mumbai. A few years ago, in 1928, Meherally had also coined the slogan “Simon Go Back” to protest against the Simon Commission – which although was supposed to work on Indian constitutional reform, but lacked Indians.
According to Saad Ali, who was part of the Quit India movement, Meherally was a member of the Socialist Congress Party who was active in the anti-government protests. “Meherally was very popular. Beaten badly during the Simon Commission boycott, he never really recovered and I nursed him through a phase of poor health… I remember him reading the news to us daily,” Ali said, speaking of their experiences in prison. .