Indian Independence Day 15th August 1947

JAI HIND!
(Long live India!)
The 15th of August 1947 was the day on which India became an independent country.
CAMA FLAG blog
This early Indian national flag was designed by the Indian Freedom fighter Madame Bhikaiji Cama at the beginning of the 20th century. This particular example of the flag is preserved in a museum in Bhavnagar (Gujarat).
READ MORE about Mme Cama and other patriots who struggled for India’s freedom long before Gandhi became prominent in the fight for Indian Independence:
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IDEAS, BOMBS, and BULLETS

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They were regarded as terrorists by the British police and as patriots by most Indians.

Adam Yamey’s latest book, IDEAS, BOMBS, and BULLETS, explores the activities of a group of Indian freedom fighters active in Edwardian London (1905-1910)

The book relates a true tale of bombs, guns, lawyers, patriots, philosophers, revolutionaries, and scholars. It concerns a little known part of the history of India’s long struggle for independence.

A large Victorian house stands in a residential street in the north London suburb of Highgate. Between 1905 and 1910, it was known as ‘India House’, and was a meeting place and hostel for Indian students, many of whom wished to help liberate India from centuries of British domination. India House was created by a genius from Kutch (now part of present day Gujarat).

In the 19th and 20th centuries before India’s independence, many young Indians came to England to be educated. This is the story of a few of them, who came to Britain in the early 20th century, and then risked sacrificing their freedom, prospects, and lives by becoming involved in India’s freedom struggle.

This book describes the true adventurous exploits of members of Highgate’s India House (including Shyamji Krishnavarma, VD Savarkar, Madan Lal Dhingra, and VVS Aiyar) and its history.

 

The book is available in paperback: 

http://www.lulu.com/shop/adam-yamey/ideas-bombs-and-bullets/paperback/product-24198568.html 

and as a KINDLE e-book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W7CYKPG/

Gandhi in Bhavnagar

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MK (‘Mahatma’) Gandhi matriculated (gained the qualifications for entering university) in 1887. He enrolled at Samaldas College in Bhavnagar in Saurashtra. This is a photo of the room in which Gandhi studied at Samaldas College. It is now use as a gymnasium by a girl’s school (Majiraj Girls High School).

Gandhi wrote of his time in Bhavnagar in his book The Law and the Lawyers:

There was a college in Bhavnagar as well as in Bombay, and as the former was cheaper, I decided to go there and join the Samaldas College. I went, but found myself entirely at sea. Everything was difficult. I could not follow, let alone taking interest in, the professors’ lectures. It was no fault of theirs. The professors in that college were regarded as first-rate. But I was so raw. At the end of the first term, I returned home.”

Two famous vegetarians

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A photograph of Mahatma Gandhi stands above a fire place in the home of the great paywright George Bernard Shaw at Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire. Gandhi, born in Porbandar in Gujarat, met Shaw in London in 1931.

Both of these great men were vegetarians. Shaw said: “Animals are my friends . . . and I don’t eat my friends.” And Gandhi said: “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.  I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body“. 

While Gandhi never visited Shaw at his home, Jawaharlal Nehru did in 1950.

In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour politician, is also a vegetarian. I wonder what Shaw would have thought of him and whether he would have put Corbyn’s photograph on his mantle-piece.

 

 

Quotes from https://shawsociety.org/Sri.htm

 

Ellis Bridge

Ahmedabad was founded on the east bank of the River Sabarmati in the 15th century. Until 1871, there was no bridge across the river from the city to the west bank. In that year, a wooden bridge was constructed.

A few years later, the wooden bridge was destroyed by floods. In 1892, a steel bridge was constructed. This was designed by an Indian engineer HD Bhachech and named in honour of a British colonial official named Ellis.

The Ellis Bridge remained in use until 1997, when it was closed. By 1999, two concrete bridges were constructed, one on each side of the old bridge. These new, wider bridges form what is now known as the Swamivivekananda Bridge. The old Ellis Bridge flanked by the two concrete bridges, heavily laden with traffic, has been preserved as a heritage monument.

The old Ellis Bridge, which existed when Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in about 1917, leads from the old city to Kochrab, where the Mahatma set up his first ashram in India.

Statue of Unity: larger than life!

The Indian Government has just ‘unveiled’ the world’s largest statue, the Statue of Unity. It is 182 metres high and stands in Gujarat between Baroda and Ahmedabad. It is a memorial to Sardar Vallabhai Patel (1875-1950), who was born in Gujarat.

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Source: Wikipedia

A close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Patel was a great fighter for India’s independence. When the British finally relinquished their hold over India on the 15th of August 1947, the territory of India was a complex mix of formerly British territory and the so-called Princely States, which were self-governing.

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Map at Patel Memorial Museum in Ahmedabad. The yellow parts of the map show the parts of India occupied by Princely States

There were well over 500 Princely States embedded within the boundaries of what is now India. Over 200 of these were within the Saurashtra (Kathiawad) district of Gujarat. India in 1947 was a jigsaw puzzle of independent states each with their own ruler. These states were contained within a matrix that was formerly the part of India under direct British rule. After Independence, the rulers of the Princely States were given the choice of becoming part of India or joining the newly formed Pakistan.

Had the Princely States maintained their autonomy after Independence, the Indian subcontinent would have been as complex, if not more so, than the Balkans, and maybe as troublesome. Some of the states like Hyderabad and Junagadh, both large and far from Pakistan, had leanings towards joining with the new Islamic State of Pakistan. Others like Kashmir were not sure with whom to ally. 

It was the great skill and statesmanship of Sardar Vallabhai Patel that persuaded the Princely States to join India. Even Junagadh and Hyderabad were eventually incorporated into India. The unification of India was achieved under the leadership of Patel and his colleagues. So, it is fitting that the enormous new statue should be called The Statue of Unity.

 

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A modest memorial to Sardar Vallabhai Patel in central Ahmedabad

Whether Patel would have approved of the enormous expense involved in creating his latest monument, we will never know!

 

 

A royal palace by the sea

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Sand drifts relentlessly up from the seaside towards the gracefully decaying, rambling Huzoor Palace in Porbandar (Gujarat), the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.

Prior to 1947, what is now the State of Gujarat was divided up into more than 200 ‘independent’ Princely States. Many of the rulers of these states were wealthy. Most of them built elaborate palaces like this one built in the early 20th century by Nawarsinhji Bhavsinhji Sahib Bahadur, who ruled from 1908-48 and was a first-class cricketer, who played for India in a Test Match in England in 1932.

 

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Discover more about Gujarat in

TRAVELS THROUGH GUJARAT, DAMAN, AND DIU

by Adam Yamey

Available by clicking HERE

Also, from Amazon and on Kindle

 

Happy birthday, Mr Gandhi!

Mohandas K Gandhi, the Mahatma, was born in Porbandar (Gujarat) on the 2nd of October 1869. The house in which he was born still stands, and is now part of the Kirti Mandir memorial complex in the centre of Porbandar. Here are some photos of Gandhi’s birthplace that Adam Yamey took in March 2018:

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Gandhi’s parents

 

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The swastika marks the spot where Gandhi was born

 

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His spirit lives on…

A short excerpt from Adam Yamey’s new book about Gujarat

GUJ LULU PIC

 

In the Baroda Museum:

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Baroda Museum

There are two ‘memento mori’ on display. One is an Egyptian mummified corpse with exposed blackened feet, and the other is of more recent origin.

 

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Unlike the painted container containing the age-old ‘mummy’, the other item concerned with the end of life is empty. It is a copper urn used to carry the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi to the Morli sangam at Chandod. Other urns, which contained some of the great man’s ashes, exist elsewhere. An article in the Guardian’s on-line newspaper, dated 31st of January 2008, says of another urn containing Gandhi’s ashes:

‘The vessel was one of dozens containing Gandhi’s cremated remains that were distributed around India in 1948.’

 

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Close to the urn in Baroda, there is a letter of condolence written by Gandhi to a friend, who had just lost a daughter.

 

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The letter, which was written on 19th of January 1948, includes the words:

‘Death is a true friend. It is only our ignorance that causes us grief. Sulochana’s spirit was yesterday, is today, will remain tomorrow”. Gandhi was assassinated eleven days after writing this. His spirit lives on.

 

ADAM’S BOOK IS AVAILABLE AS

A PAPERBACK BY CLICKING HERE

A DOWNLOADABLE KINDLE BY CLICKING  HERE

 

Gandhi’s voice still lingers…

Excerpt fromTravels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu“, shortly to be published by Adam Yamey

 [Ahmedabad]

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When Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, having established Tolstoy Farm, an ashram in Natal in 1910, he created one on a small plot at Kochrab, south west of the walled city of Ahmedabad. Gandhi chose Ahmedabad for several reasons: it is a Gujarati speaking city; he had wealthy supporters there; it was an historic centre for handloom weaving; there were mill-owners sympathetic to his cause who would supply him with yarn for spinning; and, most importantly, it was in British territory rather than in a Princely State. It was important, he felt, that the struggle against the British should not be launched from non-British soil. After Ahmedabad, Gandhi established more ashrams in other parts of India. Because of outbreaks of disease at Kochrab and Gandhi’s desire for a larger area for experimenting with farming and khadi production, a new and larger ashram, the Sabarmati Ashram, was set up in 1917 on a site overlooking the Sabarmati, where it remains today. Gandhi lived there until 1930. In March of that year, Gandhi set out from the ashram on his historic 390-kilometre Salt March to Dandi. On the day he set off, he swore that he would not return to the Sabarmati Ashram until India had gained independence from the British. This ashram served as an important centre of India’s Freedom Struggle. Now no longer a working ashram, it is a much-visited and revered place of pilgrimage.

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The Sabarmati Ashram is beautifully landscaped. Many of its original single-storey buildings are dotted amongst trees, lawns, and bushes. They are all in immaculate condition, each one housing various exhibits. There is also a superb bookshop, stocking books about Gandhi, his associates, Indian history, and general travel. A small inscribed stone close to some steps leading down to the river marks the Upasana Mandir, an open space that was consecrated for the morning and evening prayers of the inhabitants of the ashram. The stone’s inscription dated 2nd October 1936, Gandhi’s seventieth birthday, records that this was the space where: “…the hallowed voice of many a sermon of Gandhijee still lingers…”

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River Sabarmati