Flix Monday, March 23, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | March 23, 2015 | 3.40 pm IST An interesting conversation ensued on Twitter today after senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai commented about freedom fighter Bhagat Singh on his death anniversary. March 23 happens to be the day when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed by the British government in India. The trio are remembered not just in India, but even across the border in Pakistan. In Lahore, where they were imprisoned and later hanged, a traffic roundabout that marks the spot of their hanging has been named after Bhagat Singh. People of all shades of political persuasions claim him for their own. The remarks being made today on social media are merely as extension of what has occurred over the years. Bhagat Singh is claimed as an icon worthy of emulation by people across the political and cultural spectrum. He is a mascot for everybody under the sun – from the left to right. So it didn't come as as a surprise when Sardesai was criticised for tweeting: The great Bhagat Singh was a revolutionary communist all his life; lived life as a leftist, in death embraced and venerated by the right! — Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) March 23, 2015 Another Twitter user with some following posted this picture: I still remember a politician & a Jounalist who used #BhagatSingh for their politics pic.twitter.com/3iJilGpAhy — Tajinder Pal S Bagga (@tajinderbagga) March 23, 2015 @sardesairajdeep he was nationalist first...left or right doesnt matter..but perhaps too difficult for you to understand. — Chintan Shah (@Chin512) March 23, 2015 @MunibaKamal he was leftist, atheist, nationalist. — Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) March 23, 2015 .@sardesairajdeep sir, revolutionary, leftist & rightist in percentages please.... for better analysis & research! — Keh Ke Peheno (@coolfunnytshirt) March 23, 2015 So what were Bhagat Singh’s own views about politics, armed struggle as a means of political liberation from colonialism? As historian Irfan Habib points out, Bhagat Singh was just 23 when he died, but already a formidable intellectual. We trivialize Bhagat Singh when we see him merely as a nationalist. He was an ideologue, with an alternative vision for free India. — S l Habib (@irfhabib) March 23, 2015 Bhagat Singh was just 23 when he was hanged today in 1931.Most of his profound writings began when he was just 17-18 years. Amazing. — S l Habib (@irfhabib) March 23, 2015 Again, also as Habib says, one needs to read Bhagat Singh’s original writing to understand his views: For those who want to understand Bhagat Singh as an intellectual, go and read his original writings and not just historians like me. — S l Habib (@irfhabib) March 23, 2015 Here’s a quick guide on what to two powerful essays on an issue that has dominated the socio-political discourse in recent times - religion. In one essay, Bhagat Singh addresses the question of caste and conversions in Indian society, and records his views on conversion. An extract from the original essay published in Punjabi magazine Kirti in June 1928. It can be accessed on this blog here.  “But the upper castes should also realize that their own status in life cannot change for better as long as they persist in considering these people as inferior, calling them menials, and keeping them under their heels. It is argued that they are unclean. The harsh truth is that they are poor; remove their poverty and they shall be clean. Don't we find that the poor even among the upper casts are no less unclean? Besides doing unclean jobs is not bad; for example mothers perform all the unclean duties for their children. Do they become unclean?” Like Ambedkar, he too advocated that they be given their own representation in elected bodies. Bhagat Singh said: “But can these legislatures, where a lot of hue and cry is raised even over a bill to ban child marriage, on the ground that it shall be a threat to their religion dare to bring the untouchables to their level on their own? No, never; that is why we plead that they must persist in pressing for their own distinct representation in legislatures in proportion to their numerical strength.” An another essay titled “Why I am an Atheist”, Bhagat Singh discusses his views on religion and says that although he believed in a god as a child, he wasn’t enamoured of the rituals of religion, even though he followed some of the traditional cultural practices of Sikhs (such as refraining from cutting off hair). Gradually he lost faith in god as well, as explains his reasons for it in the essay that he wrote before his death. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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