Does V.D. Savarkar deserve the Bharat Ratna?

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The Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. The recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. During the Maharashtra Assembly election, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra has declared in the manifesto that it will propose the name of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, if re-elected, along with Savitribai Phule and Jyotiba Phule. That’s why it has taken the shape of heated debate whether Veer Savarkar deserves Bharat Ratna or not. There are few points made by dissenters like former AAP leader Ashutosh against Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar.

The first reason Ashutosh gives that when Savarkar was sent to kala paani at cellular jail in Andaman Nicobar, he wrote letters to Britishers in which he apologized to be released from jail. Ashutosh compares Veer Savarkar with Bhagat Singh to dominate emotionally before the people. He gave an example of Bhagat Singh who refused to seek clemency from the British as some well-wishers and family members wanted him to do.

First, Ashutosh might not know that even Bhagat Singh was so influenced by Savarkar’s book “The Indian War of Independence 1857” that he helped Raja Ram Shashtri for the publication of Savarkar’s book. It was very popular among the Revolutionists for inspiration. I think the basic problem is that people are evaluating history in today’s context as per political wishes. Second, What would he say about Aurobindo-Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal, who were forced to get retired from active politics by British. Can you also blame them for running away from the responsibility of making India free?

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Thirdly, Shivaji adopted the method of “Guerilla War” to fight against the unjust Mughal empire. Can you also call this a coward attack? NO! a big No. It was the political tactics of Chhatrapati Shivaji to fight against the unjust system. Fourthly, just ask yourself – Britishers gave award to whom and punishment of Kalapani to whom? Those who danced on the tune of Britishers got award and those who didn’t dance got punishment like Kalapani. What will Ashutosh say about the award “Kaiser-e-hind” which was given by Britishers to Mahatma Gandhi for his services to the Britishers in Boer war.

The second reason given by Ashutosh that makes Savarkar ineligible for the award, is that when the freedom fighters were braving the bullets of Britishers, Savarkar didn’t take part in any of the freedom movements and was loyal to Britishers.

He is lying here. It shows that either he even doesn’t know iota about veer Savarkar or misinterpreting efforts of Veer Savarkar. In 1905 he had openly opposed the division of Bengal. In 1906, Veer Savarkar formed Abhinav Bharat, a secret society, against Britishers. He continuously wrote articles for newspapers against Britishers. Lord Curzon was shot by Madan Lal Dhingra. He wrote an article in ‘London Times’ related to it. Due to this writing, he was arrested in 1910.

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Everybody doesn’t fight with guns. Somebody fights against the unjust systems with a pen also. I believe that Pen is sharper than the sword. So, please stop misinterpreting freedom fighter’s efforts by compartmentalizing their role and evaluating them narrowly for political taste. His book “The Indian War of independence 1857” was banned by Britishers. He wrote this book at the age of 25 years after doing extensive research. He knew that Britishers would not allow publishing his book. Initially, it was written in Marathi. He prepared 3 copies of the same book by hand. One was sent to his own brother Baba Rao Savarkar. The second was sent to Bhikaji Cama in France. The third copy was sent to Kutinho.

It was translated in English by Bhikaji Cama and Lala Hardayal. It was banned by Britishers before it got published. Freedom fighters were very much influenced by his book. It inspired them to form Gadhar party. Even Bhagat Singh was so influenced that he helped Raja Ram Shashtri for its publication. It was published in Tamil with the help of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This book motivated other freedom fighters to fight against Britisher. In this book, he deemed 1857 war as first war of independence. He rejected the British conception of Sepoy Mutiny.

As far as loyalty concern. Indian National congress was much loyal at that point of time. I am not judging whether it was wrong or right. I believe that strategically it could be the need at that time. Indian National congress was formed in 1885. From 1885 till 1929, they couldn’t even speak openly for “Poorna Swaraj”. The same Veer Savarkar formed secret society much earlier in 1906 to throw Britishers out. In Lahore session 1929, first time Indian National congress passed resolution for “Poorna Swaraj”. The question is what congress was doing for the last 45 years from 1885 to 1929? Were they loyal to Britishers or not? Picking up only sweet history for political purpose is not good for upcoming generation.

The third reason Ashutosh has given by disclosing the role of Savarkar, during Quit India Movement in 1942, Ashutosh says Savarkar and his party, Hindu Mahasabha, recruited thousands of people in the British army.

What would Ashutosh say about the Left party? Left party, openly boycotted Gandhi’s Quit India Movement for the international affair with Russia since it was allied with Britishers. Even Dr. Ambedkar also didn’t participate in Quit India Movement. In fact, earlier he had not participated in any movement significantly. He even openly appealed to oppose Indian National Congress. What will Ashutosh say about it? It’s  an unjust way of undermining freedom fighter for the vested political interest. Indian bureaucracy also did not support the Quit India Movement 1942.

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As far as Savarkar’s role in helping Britishers is concerned, what will Ashutosh say about Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was not anti-British Empire and had faith over the British Constitution and empire during the Boer War 1899. In his views, the empire was not responsible for the individual problems of the colonies whose vast conglomeration was under the Government in London. In 1899, Boer war was again started. Gandhi wished to support the British in a hope that the conditions of Indians would improve later. He set up assistance by organizing 1100 volunteers and served in the Indian Ambulance Corps.

The fourth reason Ashutosh cites why Savarkar is not eligible for Bharat Ratna, is that Savarkar was accused in the killing of Gandhi Ji. He was released on technical grounds.

Ashutosh might know some basic values of laws and related punishment. A person is innocent till he is proved guilty. Ranjeet, the heir of Veer Savarkar, claimed that Veer Savarkar was acquitted by the court because there was no evidence against him. Any person arrested on the basis of suspicion and then released after investigation due to lack of evidences can’t be viewed through the glass of prejudice. How can you call him culprit even after acquittal.

Don’t go far in the past. In 2005, it’s former Prime Minister from Congress, Manmohan Singh himself confessed at Oxford and owed to Britishers for their contribution in India. Still, congress is owing Britishers. He tried to suggest in his speech that “Even at the height of our campaign for freedom from colonial rule, we did not entirely reject the British claim to good governance. We merely asserted our natural right to self-governance.” He also claimed that English language and modern education is legacy of British Raj. On one hand these people are criticizing Veer Savarkar through Britishers and on the other hand the same people are patting the back of Britishers. It is called hypocrisy (Munafkat).

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Gandhi ji can’t be the ultimate personality. He was also an ordinary man like us. How Gandhi ji can become sole reason for evaluating others as good or bad? His assassination was unfortunate for which all of us are ashamed and that should not have happened. But, No any person in this world is ultimate truth. It limits the thinking capability of our generation. Nathuram Godse was wrong. Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Godse made Gandhi immortal. He has legitimized his all actions without any barrier since the actual deliberation on Gandhi’s actions have been stopped after his assassination. The deliberation that comes before us in different shapes and sizes of binary discourses between Gandhi and Godse every year on October 2.

I think that many freedom fighters are undervalued by historians because Modern Indian history is written by Marxists. One of the undervalued freedom fighters is Veer Savarkar. He has been used by opponents to taunt the right-wing party. Everybody explains history in his own way. I don’t know whether he should be given “Bharat Ratna” or not. It should be decided by the committee in a legitimate and proper procedural way. I have only countered the selective propagation of History which is being proliferated before our generation so that it could suit their politics. This is the world of Information and Communication Technology. Everybody can read historical events and challenge the selective misinterpretation of histories.


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