Role of Education in Indian Freedom Struggle: Independence Day Special

When we think of Indian Freedom Struggle, what comes first in our mind? Probably, Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and many more. We know about their roles, contributions and their achievements, but how did they do so? What led them sacrifice their lives for Indian Independence and why only them?

Indian freedom struggle and its seeds were cultivated long ago with the beginning of education phase of our freedom fighters. Proper education imparts knowledge and develops awareness, communication and various skills. The success of most of the passive and active movements was the result of those seeds (See Fig.1) sown into their minds and thus, their heroic act of uniting whole country against the shrewd British rule was remarkable. Leaders such as, Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi, played their role prominently and fought tooth and nail for freedom. The question arises here, how their education was an important part of their role they played?

Education in a cycle leading to freedom

Fig. 1 Education in a cycle leading to freedom

Awareness, Knowledge and Communication

All three are the initial outcome of education. Various movements led by Mahatma Gandhi such as Non-cooperation, Champaran and Salt Satyagraha, all had a common cause and that was imposition of rules by Imperialistic Government. Gandhi, being a lawyer understood the consequences of those rules on Indians, their rights and Indian Independence. He was aware that a large mass of people including women and even children can participate in the movement of non-violence, instead of violence, where the life was at stake. Other side of the movement was led by intellectuals like Rabindra Nath Tagore. The first Indian Noble Laureate, who tried uniting every Indian in a single thread of ‘love for freedom’. He reached and communicated every Indian heart with his poems, music and other writings and influenced them to participate in the freedom struggle.

Intellectual Skills and Decision Making

Awareness and knowledge lead to development of intellectual skills. Subhash Chandra Bose and his strategies to take Indian National Movement at International Level for seeking financial and Arm support from Germany, Japan, rich personnel and Hitler, shows his fervent nationalism. When Hitler denied for support, Bose moved to Japan and convinced them to fight against British, while speaking in a conference in India. In 1943 he revived “Azaad Hind Fauj” out of Indian POW (Prisoners of War) captured by Japan and formed an alliance with Japanese forces. In 1944, INA along with Japanese troops was defeated by British Army. It was not a setback for the dream of Independence; instead it left a strong mark in Indian hearts to fight with more zeal. Somewhere, Bose knew that his army may not overcome British forces; despite he moved on to leave that strong message for Indians.

Leadership and Visionary

Intellectual skills and decision making power makes you a leader and visionary. Gandhi once even convinced Bose to join him and choose the path of non-violence in Indian freedom struggle. He was a great visionary too. He believed that the path of violence will contaminate the goal of Independence and non-violence is the strongest weapon against Britishers. Akin to him, a prominent leader and successful lawyer, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel led the mission for uniting the princely states with the Union at the time of Independence. Bose gave slogans like “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai hum aapas mein hain bhai-bhai” to Indian POW(Prisoner of War) in Germany, while motivating them to fight against British for their land. He wanted to have a community for the future of India. Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, one of the foremost leaders of Indian freedom struggle contributed in establishing the education foundation in India before and after the Independence.

Coming back to questions, almost all our freedom fighters faced racism and discrimination which compelled them to fight for their rights and for Independence because they understood what discrimination, human rights and racism were? Gandhi once thrown out of a train in Europe.  Bose is still fondly remembered for standing up for the rights of his fellow Indian while studying in India. Rabindra Nath Tagore was a great visionary who wrote for Indians, their unity and equality, while away from India. Britishers ruled us for about a century because we lacked education and awareness. However, the role and patriotism by Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Magal Pandey  is irreplaceable but for winning a war,  knowledge, strategy, vision and leadership are important too and hence, education. So there should be freedom in education if it can lead to freedom.

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