Unlike a defensive call for help, a slogan by freedom fighters is an offensive cry for war. The word ‘slogan’ literally means a ‘war cry,’ as it has been derived from the Scottish roots ‘Slaugh-Army, Gharim-Cry.’ For a revolutionary, a slogan is what the pulse is to a doctor. It is a catch phrase, coined in the background of a developing story of a freedom movement. The right slogan at the right time is like striking iron when it is red hot. Many effective slogans were created by Indian freedom fighters, and they did achieve the unity of purpose that was nothing short of freedom from British rule. Although different political segments differed notably in their philosophy, they all aimed and focused on ‘freedom.’ There was the great leader Bapu. The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who believed in non-violence and his efforts realized freedom for India. On the other hand, there were aggressive revolutionary youth who did not hesitate even to bomb the political meetings to raise their voices,loud enough to be heard attentively by the concerned British rulers who were turning a deaf ear to them. The Indian freedom fighters were red with blood and, in the course of the freedom movement, many of them like Bhagat Singh were hanged like ‘strange fruits’ on trees.
1. Quit India
In August, 1942, the most respected Hindu Leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, gave a call for immediate independence and an orderly withdrawal of the British, demanding them to ‘Quit India.’ It was a movement of civil disobedience. Immediately after his call, the whole leadership of Congress and more than 60,000 Indians were arrested. Then American President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressured Churchill to accede to the call, but he did not agree with it. He was heavy handed, and the call was a failure in the short term, but it communicated to the British fully that India was no more controllable by them, and they had no other choice except to find some respectable way to quit India.
2. Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live the Revolution)
Famous Muslim Leader Hasrat Mohani had created the slogan ‘Inqilab Zindabad’; ‘Long live the revolution.’ The slogan is synonymous to Bhagat Singh, the Indian youth revolutionary. Along with Batukishwer Dut, shouting the slogan ‘Inqilab Zindabad,’ he threw two bombs and many leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly. He was arrested and won admiration and national support. The trial was conducted by a special tribunal at Privy Council in England. He was convicted of murder and hanged at the age of 23.
Subhas Chandra Bose, popularly known as Nitaji, the respected leader, created the slogan ‘Jai Hind’; ‘Long live India!’ in 1947. He decided to use the slogan at the end of every meeting, and today it is an official salutation in India. The Government of India officially adopted ‘Jai-Hind’ as the Indian National Slogan. Nitaji was one of the most famous and influential leaders in the history of India. As an Indian freedom fighter, he also created two other slogans: ‘Dilli Chalo’; March to Delhi ‘and ‘Give me your blood, I will give you your freedom’. He belonged to a ‘Prosperous family,’ and had a brilliant, academic background.
4. ‘Swaraj Mara Janamasiddha Hak Hai’; Self Rule is My Birthright
The slogan ‘Swaraj Mara Janamasiddha Hak Hai’; ‘Self rule is my birthright,’ was created by the fiery Indian Leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was also known as ‘Lokmanya Tilak’; the leader acknowledged by the masses. British authorities were not at ease with him and scornfully used to call him the ‘Father of Indian Unrest.’ What appeared ‘unrest’ to the British, was, in fact, the fight for freedom. His slogan inspired millions of Indians all over the world and played a pivotal role in the fight for freedom.
5. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan; Long Live Youth, Long Live Farmer
The slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’; ‘Long Live Youth, Long Live Farmer’ was created by Lal Bahadur Shastri who was a loyal follower of Mahatma Gandhi and had joined the Indian Independence Movement in 1920. He would be one of the most trusted fellows of Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru. He emerged as a hero Prime Minister of India during the 1965 War with Pakistan which ended after the Tashkent declaration in India. The next day after the agreement, he died of a heart attack there in Tashkent.
6. Satvameva Jayathe; Truth Will Win
Madan Mohan Malaviya was a famous Indian educationalist and freedom fighter. He is remembered for popularizing the slogan ‘Satvameva Jayathe’; ‘Truth Will Win.’ The slogan was taken from the old Indian Scripture ‘Mundaka Upanishad.’ The slogan was received with such an enthusiasm that it was adopted as the Indian National Motto. The slogan appears in Devanagari script at the base of the Indian National Emblem. It is also inscribed on one side of Indian coins.
7. Aaram Haram Hai
‘Aram Haram Hai’; ‘Rest is a Religious Deviation,’ was a slogan given by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He believed in the untiring effort for the cause of freedom and worked ceaselessly for its achievement. He led the nation by example. Even in the last moments of his life, he had been thinking of the welfare of his nation. Robert Frost’s verses, as given below, were found written on a pad in the last moments of his life:
‘The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go, before I sleep.
8. Vande Matram; I Bow to Thee Mother!
‘Vande Matram’; ‘I Bow to Thee Mother!’ is taken from an ancient novel Anandamath written in Begali and Sanskrit by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1882. The song is a hymn to Durga Devi, considered an Indian national embodiment. Khudiram Bose, a young revolutionary and Indian freedom fighter, killed many British officers by bombing and was planning to kill the Magistrate Kingsford. He was arrested, convicted of murder, and hanged on August 11, 1908 with the holy book Bhagwad Gita in his hands and ‘Vande Matram’ on his lips in the last moments of his life. Distinguished from the Indian National Anthem, the first two verses of the song including ‘Vande Matram,’ have been adopted officially as the Indian National Song.
9. Simon Go Back
Sir John Simon was the chairman of a commission named ‘Simon Commission’ after him. It comprised of seven members of the British Parliament and was sent to India in 1927 with an aim to study and reform the Indian Constitution. Clement Attlee was also one of its members. He became the British Prime Minister afterwards and would oversee the granting of freedom to Pakistan and India in 1947. Lajpat Rai led a peaceful procession to protest against the Simon Commission and created the slogan ‘Simon Go Back.’ Police batons were used to charge the procession to disperse, and LalaRajpat Rai was severely hit on the chest and died soon afterwards. His death’s anniversary falls on November 17 and is observed as Martyrs’ Day in India.
10. Don’t Pay Tax (During Satyagraha)
One of the most effective slogans of the Indian freedom fighters were ‘Don’t Pay Tax’ emerged during the Salt March, also known as Namak Satyagraha. It was a direct action and tax resistance against the British monopoly of salt production in colonial India. The salt march was led by Mahatma Gandhi and culminated into ‘Purna Swaraj’ ‘Self Rule’ declaration by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930.
Nothing is free in this world of supply and demand, particularly when it comes to ‘freedom.’ It is never achievable for free. It needs blood and much more than that. Most of the blood was given by the Indian freedom fighters by quite a few famous leaders and many more unidentified commoners as reflected by the famous Indian poetess Amrita Pritam in her eulogy to the great Punjabi Poet Waris Shah, saying:
Uth Dard mandan dia dardia, uth tak apna Punjab
Aj Bele Lashaan bichhian, te lahu di bhari Chenab!
Get up, O friend of the distressed, rise and see your Punjab!
The field is full of corpses, and the River Chenab is full of blood!