Karti Dharti— A Call for a New Age of Liberty

Prof. Jagmohan Singh

Taking the responsibility of Karti Dharti in one’s own hands is indeed a good omen; and it  beyond doubt is a revolutionary step. In Bhagat Singh’s eyes there were two well marked types of social movements or processes of social reconstruction; one that brings about a change in political leadership and the other that can potentially alter the course of a whole generation. One should be able to tell one apart from the other.

The former encompasses the transference of reins of stately power from one political party/organisation to the other. Something akin merely to the changing of coloured masks in a dramatic performance. Such a setup usually entails gradual deterioration in the social welfare outlook of the government, eventually followed by a guaranteed aggravation of socio-economic woes of the society. The situation here is very much like being sucked in by a whirlwind which keeps pulling one towards its core while growing stronger and perhaps more violent with the passage of time. This is the post-truth apparatus, charging people with misplaced emotions and dividing people along various linesideological, sectarian, communal, what have you. This further worsens an already troubled state of affairs. Now the ones with power initiate a systematic process backed by shallow claims— of putting checks on, largely curbing  the fundamental rights and the democratic freedoms one is entitled to. Political cacophony is manufactured to draw attention away from the cries of the average citizen. On one hand they push the masses into the dark cesspit of fear, while constantly engaging in practices that highlight differences over commonalities. The world has suffered in the hands of such Fascist leaders peppered throughout history: recent and distant.

Pitted against this is the idea of a revolution that cuts through the class structure that is often considered the norm; a movement that has potential for change and reformation that resonates across generations. Such a movement carries a nuanced understanding of complications at hand; the problem solving approach is thus well informed. Bhagat Singh deemed this a true revolution. Such a movement takes into account factors which are time and again ignored, crucial factors interplaying in informing social, economic, and political issues; and inherently the steps taken to resolve them. Flow of which cannot be challenged by retrogressive thoughts and scheming. Upshots of such positive inventiveness were felt during the struggle against the British Raj, when Savitribai Phule and her associate Fatima Sheikh brought to fruition an endeavour of facilitating the education of girls of the subcontinent, promoting critical thought and questioning. Similarly in Punjab around 1793 Bibi Sahib Kaur had played a pivotal role in defeating the forces of East India Company and then the Marathas; Prof. Mohan Singh talks about her in this quatrain:

The Marathas came in hordes, but to no avail,

Scattered,  they ran— the Singh did curtail,

Into the proud hands of Punjab did they fall,

Thus and so the daughter of the five-rivers held the pennant tall.

Unfortunately, there is no memorial in Patiala to mark her contribution. For as it happens, the potentates are often afraid of brave women working towards decisive and progressive change. 

However, the unparalleled contributions towards the Indian independence movement (mid nineteenth century onwards) by many revolutionary women has been immortalised. Whenever women like Begum Hazrat Mahal, Rani Jhansi, General Jhalkaribai, Ghadarite Gulab Kaur, Durga Bhabi, Shushila Didi, and other like minded women have taken the command in their hands, we have witnessed the wheels of a new age being given impetus to. Bhagat Singh saluted such brave women remarking:

“These are the brave daughters of India whose sacrifice is unmatched. They are the ones who offered their husbands and brothers to the sacrificial fire, the ones who motivated and sent them out to lay down their lives for our struggle for freedom. These brave women have besides their own lives, put everything near and dear at stakes for our common goal. And your government (British) labels them seditious mutineers.”

Now, it does not come as a surprise that the current government is employing the same methods of suppression the British had used, all pushing us towards a steep slope of  economic decline and that of the various indices of human development. Thus, in this farmers’ act of resistance; to become a facilitator for the young and driven women is like trotting towards a new age of liberty. Alongside the numerous achievements of this movement this is indeed a pertinent input.

Many things have crystallised during our troubled times. One clear message is being conveyed that our people have to become “atmanirbhar” (lit. self reliant) for this structure of governance is only suited to the needs, rather wants of the rich. The State is complacent, it sits comfortably in not fulfilling its constitutional duty of public service. For the same reason women of every street, every village would have to become a karti dharti.

What this movement’s frontline has taught in the form of a discourse on revolution, is that the discourse on fighting for our rights has to be implemented with vigour at grassroots level. This would require initiatives which include villages in their ambit. Due attention has to be given to the educational, health, and nutritional needs of our villages. Blinkers on, arm in arm, with a firm resolution we can overcome any hurdle, big or small.  Bhagat Singh had said, “The day people decide to come forward with a humanist approach towards alleviating human sorrow and pain; that day we shall be taking firm strides towards true freedom”.

Karti Dharti is a step in the right direction.