Bhagat Singh Contribution – UPSC GS1

Bhagat Singh:
  • Early Life: 
    • Born as Bhaganwala on the 26th September, 1907, Bhagat Singh grew up in a petty-bourgeois family of Sandhu Jats settled in the Jullundur Doab district of the Punjab.
    • He belonged to a generation that was to intervene between two decisive phases of the Indian national movement – the phase of the ‘Extremism’ of Lal-Bal-Pal and the Gandhian phase of nonviolent mass action.
  • Role in Freedom Struggle:
    • In 1923, Bhagat Singh joined the National College, Lahore which was founded and managed by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhai Parmanand.
    • The College was set up as an alternative to the institutions run by the Government, bringing to the field of education the idea of Swadeshi.
    • In 1924 in Kanpur, he became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association, started by Sachindranath Sanyal a year earlier. The main organiser of the Association was Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh became very close to him.
    • It was as a member of the HRA that Bhagat Singh began to take seriously the philosophy of the Bomb.
    • Revolutionary Bhagwati Charan Vohra wrote the famous article philosophy of the Bomb. Including the philosophy of bomb he authored three important political documents; the other two were Manifesto of Naujawan Sabha and Manifesto of HSRA.
    • Armed revolution was understood to be the only weapon with which to fight British imperialism.
    • In 1925, Bhagat Singh returned to Lahore and within the next year he and his colleagues started a militant youth organisation called the Naujawan Bharat Sabha.
    • In April 1926, Bhagat Singh established contact with Sohan Singh Josh and through him the ‘Workers and Peasants Party’ which brought out the monthly magazine Kirti in Punjabi.
    • For the next year Bhagat Singh worked with Josh and joined the editorial board of Kirti.
    • In 1927, he was first arrested on charges of association with the Kakori Case, accused for an article written under the pseudonym Vidrohi (Rebel). He was also accused of being responsible for a bomb explosion at Lahore during the Dussehra fair.
    • In 1928, Bhagat Singh changed the name of Hindustan Republican Association to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). In 1930, when Azad was shot, the HSRA collapsed.
    • Naujawan Bharat Sabha replaced HSRA in Punjab.
    • His time in the prison was spent protesting, seeking better living conditions for inmates. During this time, he gained the sympathy of the public, especially when he joined fellow defendant Jatin Das in a hunger strike.
    • The strike ended with Das’ death from starvation in September 1929. Two years later, Singh was convicted and hanged at the age of 23.
Ideology of Bhagat Singh 
  1. Bhagat Singh came from the family who were involved in Ghadar movement. The movement aimed at armed overthrow of the colonial state. Thus the seeds of armed overthrow and revolution were deeply sowed in his mind during his early years.
  2. After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he become anti-colonialist and anti-capitalist.
  3. His readings of Italian philosopher Mazzini and the works of Resorgimento made him realize the importance of ideology and the organization for any movement.
  4. After suspension of Non-cooperation movement after Chauri-chaura incident, he was deeply saddened. Thereby, in the backdrop of religious riots and cacophony, he took recourse to reason and leftist Revolutionary movement by joining Hindustan Republican Association.
  5. He earlier considered himself as idealist revolutionary. However, the flux during those years, lead him to go for extreme actions. He was later active in HSRA. The death of Lala Lajpat Rai devastated him and he vowed to take revenge.
He  took recourse to individual revolutionary route i.e. for propaganda by deed  rather than leading mass movement himself.
  1. He was ardently opposed to communalism, advocated social ownership of national assets and his ideology was directly or indirectly reflected in Karachi Resolution of 1931 which had happened following his hanging.
  2. However, his writings in jail show that the individual terrorism was futile rather, he called for revolutionary consciousness in the masses.
  3. He abjured capitalism, superstition and overt belief in God. Rather he promoted reason, Atheism, free-thinking, adherence to Marxism, Leninism and followed Trotsky. These show that he was never in the path of Stalinism or even Fascism.
  4. He believed that deaf need loud voices to hear and masses need to be stirred by dramatic example for which he chose himself as the protagonist.
  5. Before his hanging, he wrote “Why am an Atheist” to emphasize the importance of reason for a revolutionary. His pleading for “firing squad” instead of hanging shows he wanted to propagate his ideas through deeds. He wanted to be considered as a political prisoner rather than a criminal

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