10 Quotes on Independence from Lions and Tigers
Next week a new play by leading playwright Tanika Gupta, Lions and Tigers, opens in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It tells the tale of India’s fight for independence through the eyes of freedom fighter – and Tanika’s great-uncle – Dinesh Gupta.
Tanika has written over 20 stage plays for major British theatres but this is her most personal play yet. Based on family stories that Tanika heard from early childhood, the play teems with details drawn from her grandfather’s 500 page handwritten journal about his younger brother, and from the 92 letters written by her great-uncle from his prison cell.
Letters by Nehru, Gandhi and Bose are also mentioned throughout the play, taken verbatim from their original correspondence.
These 10 poignant quotes give you a flavour of the play and the broader political context in which it is set.
1. GANDHI ON… BRITISH RULE
“Why do I regard the British rule as a curse? It has impoverished the dumb millions by a system of progressive exploitation and by a ruinously expensive military and civil administration which the country can never afford. It has reduced us politically to serfdom. It has degraded us spiritually.”
2. BOSE ON… DEMOCRACY
“If we want to make India really great, we must build up a political democracy on the pedestal of a democratic society. Privileges based on caste or creed should go, and equal opportunities should be thrown open to all. The status of women should also be raised to take a larger and a more intelligent interest in public affairs.”
3. GANDHI ON… CO-OPERATION
“Non-co-operation means nothing less than training in self-sacrifice. Why should we co-operate with you when we know that by your administration of this great country we are being daily enslaved in an increasing degree?”
4. NEHRU ON… INDIA
“Generation after generation, and year after year, India as a nation and Indians as individuals have been subjected to insult, humiliation and contemptuous treatment.”
5. BOSE ON… CHANGE
“No real change has ever been achieved by discussions. I am convinced that if we desire freedom we must be prepared to wade through blood.”
6. BOSE ON… FREEDOM
“We should have but one desire today – the desire to die so that India may live – the desire to die a martyr’s death, so that the path to freedom may be paved with the martyr’s blood.”
7. BOSE ON… BRITISH RULE
“British rule is immoral. The psychological impulse behind the youth movement is a feeling of restlessness and impatience, of acute discontent with the present order of things, and a profound desire for a radical change.”
8. GANDHI ON… KILLING
“To die for your beliefs is one thing but to kill? No.”
9. BIMALA ON… STRENGTH
“From this day, you are swearing your allegiance to the Bengal Volunteers. With your help, India will arise from the tyranny of British occupation. We are not meek, or weak or naturally subservient. We are proud and strong and ready to fight for our land.”
10. NEHRU ON… GOVERNMENT
“The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We believe, therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj, or complete independence.”
Photo: B.B.D. (Badal, Binoy, Dinesh) Bagh, a square in Kolkata, by Rangan Datta Commons