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Saturday 25 January 2020

Lala Lajpat Rai: 10 lessons from the revolutionary

Lala Lajpat Rai was not only a revolutionary, but also a philosopher, writer, banker, social reformer and a reputed lawyer. He was born this day in 1865

New Delhi: Lala Lajpat Rai, who sent shivers down the spine of the British Raj, had earned the epithet of the ‘Lion of Punjab’. Rai, who had plunged into the war of independence at a very young age, was not only a revolutionary, but also a philosopher, writer, banker, social reformer and a reputed lawyer. Lalaji exhibited the character of a brave man at a young age. He was born this day in 1865.

That was the period when it was said the sun never set on the British Empire. The armed rebellion of 1857 against ‘Company’ Raj was crushed ruthlessly after which the Queen took over the reins from the East India Company.

In 1928, the British government set up the Sir John Simon Commission to report to the Empire the political situation of India. India’s political parties boycotted the commission as it did not include any Indian as a member. The commission met with nationwide protests.

When the commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai, despite his high-strung temperament, led a non-violent march in protest against it. Slogans like “Simon, go back” were raised by the activists who marched with black flags.

Superintendent of police James A Scott ordered the police to lathi charge the protesters. The cops singled out Rai for the harshest treatment, targeting his head with blows of batons. Despite being grievously injured, Rai addressed the crowd, saying, “I declare that the blows on me today will deal the last nail in the coffin of British rule in India.”

The brutality of British police’s lathi charge ended the life of Rai prematurely, shaking the authority due to yet another round of violent revolt that challenged the colonial rule.

The lathi charge on Rai on 30 October 1928 drove the prophesied last nail in the coffin of the world’s largest empire, as Punjab erupted as violently as Bengal. Within 20 years of his death on 17 November, India got independence.

After the revolution of 1857, the Raj had diligently established its roots in India. Rai was among the revolutionaries who played stellar roles in uprooting imperialism from India. As a thinker, he also stood for these values that we recall fondly on his birth anniversary.

The 10 principles of Rai

  1. Defeat and failure are often steps to victory.

  2. Patriotism can be built on the bedrock of justice and truth.

  3. Pride in the past is futile unless the inspiration is the future.

  4. The man goes beyond his qualities in the path of progress; staying ahead of someone else is not a forward movement.

  5. Even though freedom is dear to us, the path to get there will be long and painful.

  6. Improving upon mistakes is real progress.

  7. To serve the purpose through loyalty and honest, peaceful means is called non-violence.

  8. No society can survive without education reaching all its members.

  9. People should be courageous and honest, not worrying about the benefits of walking on the path of truth.

  10. We Hindus believe a woman in Durga and Saraswati; she is as powerful as she is beautiful.

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