Shivanshu K. SrivastavaOn September 28, 1907, revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh was born in a village of Lyallpur district in Punjab Province (British India). He went on to become one of the greatest revolutionaries of the Indian Independence Movement.A revolutionary is sometimes misapprehended and confused with terms like communist, leftist and anarchist. There might be some similar or overlapping features in these terms, but a revolutionary is certainly someone above such narrow words.Therefore, it is important to understand who is truly a ‘revolutionary’, and what are his inherent qualities. On the auspicious occasion of Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, I will discuss a few instances of Bhagat Singh’s life that distinctly define some of the key attributes of a true revolutionary.A revolutionary is someone having a spine erect enough to oppose all wrongs and atrocities, and stand firmly to bring about a progressive change in the existing state of affairs.For this reason, a revolutionary is often lambasted by those who fret over the huge political or societal change that a revolutionary can potentially induce. A prospective revolution is thus bound to create unrest in the minds of those who oppose protests, rebuke dissent and fear change.In the endeavour to bring about a change, one should remember that a change can be both positive as well as negative. When revolutionaries say that a change must be brought about, they assuredly don’t mean the latter. Resisting the deleterious change and advocating the progressive change is what a true revolutionary follows and believes in. For instance, Bhagat Singh opposed the changes brought by the British through imperialism unlike those who were initially inclined to accept and settle for dominion status. At the same time, he stood for reforming the society divided on communal grounds into one free from all sorts of inequality and exploitation.At times, we are on the horns of a dilemma and are left with only two alternatives – either to maintain the status-quo or to take a calculated risk for a change that comes as a blend of both positive and negative outcomes. In such circumstances, it is apposite to gauge which of the two alternatives would serve best the ultimate purpose, we seek to attain.If the prospects of success are overwhelming and we do possess the resource to mitigate, as far as possible, the repercussions that may arise, then the risk is worth taking. For instance, when Bhagat Singh decided to hurl a couple of bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly, he purposely chose to target the most unoccupied place in the Assembly so as to not hurt any person and also to ‘make the deaf hear’.In this whole episode, he risked the chance of being grossly misunderstood by the masses owing to his act of hurling bombs especially in the era wherein Mahatma Gandhi talked about non-violence. At the same time, he also stood a great chance of putting forth his stance on the controversial bill passed in the Assembly by dropping the leaflets and allowing himself to get arrested (without any resistance or attempt to escape) along with his associate Batukeshwar Dutt. This is an excellent example of a calculated risk in which he effectively succeeded.Although often criticised for being opinionated, the fact remains that a true revolutionary cannot have a dogmatic approach in life and is conversely liberal towards opinions. That’s the reason why dissent is the crown of revolutionaries for they believe in the liberty of thought and expression (a significant feature of our Preamble) no matter how divergent. From this inference, we may deduce that one of the key virtues of a revolutionary is that even though he has a firm resolution and has clarity about his motive, he is an open-minded person and welcomes new opinions and ideas. This is evident from the fact that Bhagat Singh was an avid reader and even just before his martyrdom he was engrossed in reading a book on another revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, knowing well that he is soon to be executed.Ordinarily, in the final hours before execution, a culprit would shiver and might even regret his acts, but for a true revolutionary death is not something to fear. For instance, Bhagat Singh deliberately chose death by allowing himself to get arrested in the Assembly without trying to escape there from. He happily accepted the death sentence and refused to file a mercy petition. The motive behind sacrificing his life at a very young age of 23 years was to inspire the youth through his ideal life of a revolutionary to actively participate in the freedom struggle and influence the posterity to establish a society based on egalitarian principles.From the above deliberation, another key attribute of a true revolutionary is inferred, that a true revolutionary is purely selfless and sparks the revolution not for his own interest but for the interests and welfare of his country and humanity at large. Had he wished, he could have conveniently used his rising popularity to enter the political regime and choose politics for freedom movement like many Congress members. But then the flambeau that he intended to kindle wouldn’t have possibly been ignited. Therefore, he renounced all worldly easiness and readily chose the most difficult way and ultimately sacrificed his life.Although the freedom that we attained 16 years after his martyrdom couldn’t be physically witnessed by Bhagat Singh himself, yet the flambeau that he had ignited over a hundred years ago continues to spark in the hearts of millions of our countrymen. Well played, Shaheed-e-Azam!
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