The Quit India Movement of 1942 was an important moment in the history of Indian nationalism. The movement began with a highly emotive speech delivered by Gandhi on August 8, in Mumbai. The following day Gandhi was arrested and that led to a nation wide upsurges, which combined both the Gandhian and the un-Gandhian forms of struggle against an exploitative British Raj. The behaviour of the Indian masses revealed that the final hour of India’s independence struggle had arrived and that people were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, imbued with a new sense of personal or individual entitlement which had been popularised by the Gandhian slogan ‘Karenge Ya Maarenge’. The movement coincided with the vagaries of the World War II and with the last minute efforts of the major European powers to retain their exalted status in the world order. However, it was clear that decolonisation would set in somewhere in the near future and that America would step in as the leading nation in the global arena.
But, the ordinary masses who lent strength to the Quit India Movement had very different ideas and this was expressed in their allegiance to amorphous terms such as ‘Swaraj & Prajatantra’. The many voices of the nation stood out during the movement and vindicated the fact that the national movement was in real terms a sum total of millions of expectations at the local levels. The movement was not typically one which followed the ethical understanding of the Indian nationalists; rather it represented the popular response to the changing power equations in the society and polity. Today, as we commemorate the 75 th anniversary of this glorious struggle, we think that this movement with all its emotional flavour had set in the process of the decolonization of the mind, something which has attracted Indian intellectuals in recent times. The freedom of the mind was not only expressed in the loud chanting of ‘Vande Mataram’ or ‘Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai’, but also with a will to stand up to the worst forms of human repression in the name of providing security to the British Empire. Nonetheless, there was something more and this was clearly revealed in the expressions of the minds of the Indian people which came to be publicised through the Indian counter public. The liberation of the country was also something akin to the liberation of the mind and this in one way or the other found a place in Jawaharlal Nehru’s mid night speech of August 14, immortalised as Indian’s tryst with destiny.
Commemorating the Silver Jubilee of the Quit India Movement, Virasat Arts Ayatokhetro and RAD will be jointly hosting a yearlong event on the movement. “The list of programs will bring out the variety of ways through which the modern subjects of the India nation state would like to remember their past. There would be academic deliberations, exhibitions and performances by cultural troupes. But the real high point of these programs would be revealed in the participation of the children, who in the future would interpret the plurality of South-Asian nationalism in a way the future would only unfurl before us.” said the organizer.