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Lala Lajpat Rai
Lala lajpat Rai.jpg
Place of birth: Jagraon, India
Place of death: Lahore (Now Pakistan, India)
Movement: Indian Independence movement
Major organizations: Indian National Congress, Arya Samaj

Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928, Punjabi: ਲਾਲਾ ਲਜਪਤ ਰਾਯ,Urdu: لالا لجپت راے; Hindi: लाला लाजपत राय) was an Indian author and politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for freedom from the British Raj. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (The Lion of Punjab). He was also the founder of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company.

Contents

Early life

(Born in Jagraon, on 28 January, India in 1865 in a Hindu Vysya Family, Lajpat Rai created a career of reforming Indian policy through politics and writing. [1] (When studying law in Lahore, he continued to practice Hinduism. He became a large believer in the idea that Hinduism, above nationality, was the pivotal point upon which an Indian lifestyle must be based.) Hinduism, he believed, led to practices of peace to humanity, and the idea that when nationalist ideas were added to this peaceful belief system, a non-secular nation could be formed. His involvement with Hindu Mahasabhaite leaders gathered criticism from the Bharat Sabha as the Mahasabhas were anti-secularism, which did not conform with the system laid out by the Indian National Congress.[2] This focus on Hindu practices in the subcontinent would ultimately lead him to the continuation of peaceful movements to create successful demonstrations for Indian independence.

Political life

As the need for partition and independence took an important turn for the possible, Lajpat Rai’s involvement became imperative to the Indian Independence Movement. His actions in anti-imperialist movements led to numerous arrests. He became an important member of the Arya Samaj. This political group was full of British-educated Indians who believed that Hinduism had a specific and direct impact on what it meant to be Indian. The group also took the ideas of a merged western and eastern world and promoted the view that the subcontinent had benefited from its coagulation. The involvement of the Arya Samaj in constitutional reform supported the freedom movement which took hold of the Indian population. Lajpat Rai led political rallies which taught how the history of the subcontinent had always been heading to the philosophical idea that it would become an independent nation.[3]

(Lajpat Rai presided over the first session of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1920. In 1923, he became a member of the Imperial Legislative Assembly. He also went to Geneva to attend the eighth International Labour Conference in 1926 as a representative of Indian labour. He had an opportunity to watch the labour movement in the USA and England where he was required to prolong his stay for political reasons.)

In addition to espousing his philosophical principles, Lajpat Rai engaged heavily in direct action and protest against British rule. (He led the Punjab protests against the Amritsar Massacre (1919), the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919 - 1922), and the "Simon go back" demonstrations against the Simon Commission (1928)). He was repeatedly arrested.He disagreed, however, with Mohandas Gandhi's suspension of the movement due to the Chauri Chaura incident.(He formed the Congress Independence Party, which was particularly pro-Hindu in voice and policy)SS.

He was not only a good orator but also a prolific and versatile writer. His journal Arya Gazette concentrated mainly on subjects related to the Arya Samaj. Bande Mataram and People, contained his inspiring speeches to end oppression by the foreign rulers. He founded the Servants of the People Society, which worked for the freedom movement as well as for social reform in the country. He also wrote an autobiography in English titled The Story of My Life.

Simon Commission protests

In 1928, Lajpat Rai led a procession with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya to demonstrate against the Simon Commission. During this procession, Rai became the target of a lathi charge (a form of crowd control in which the police use heavy staves or `lathis' in Hindi) led by British police. He was severely injured in the charge. Nevertheless, at a meeting held the same evening, he spoke with great vigour. His words at this meeting, "Every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British imperialism", have become historic. Though he recovered from the fever and pain within three days, his health had received a permanent setback and on November 17, 1928, he died of his injuries. His death led to great disturbances in the country and it inspired national struggle for freedom.

Author

(Lajpat Rai’s journey to the United States during World War I helped him to gather knowledge of how an independent nation formulates a nationalist identity.) This is where he gathered information about how foreign nations, specifically Britain’s imperialist hold on India, had negative affects on the people, the lifestyles, and the ability to generate bonds with other nations. He wrote articles that persuaded foreign nations to side with the subcontinent’s struggle for independence. By accepting that westernized ideals were positive to the creation of nationalities, he gained support for breaking from Britain.[3] In Europeanization and the Ancient Culture of India, Lajpat Rai wrote that nationalization of India was imperative to spread western ideology to the rest of the world. Since the westernization of India had successfully been adapted while continuing traditions remained a large part of the culture, he believed that India no longer needed an overbearing imperialist government. He wrote that: “at first sight it seems absurd to give one name to all Indian civilization. But a close examination for facts and data amply proves the unity of Indian civilization, at least for the present geological period.” [4] These ideas were passed to foreign countries in order to show that despite cultural differences from the western world, India’s society had become a sustainable, functional nation which deserved its own nationality as opposed to being overseen by an alien western country.

(Writings by Lajpat Rai include Josiah Wedgewood - The Man And His Work, The United States of America: A Hindu's impressions and a study, History of the Arya Samaj, Swaraj and social change, England’s Debt to India: A historical narrative of Britain's fiscal policy in India, The Problems Of National Education In India and Unhappy India: Being a reply to Katherine Mayo's "Mother India", published in 1928.) (Mother India was a polemical account of India's self rule by American historian Katherine Mayo.)

Inspiration and memorial

The Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Trust was formed in 1959 on the eve of his Centenary Birth Celebration, to promote education. The trust was founded by a group of Punjabi philanthropists (including R.P Gupta and B.M Grover) who have settled and prospered in the Indian State of Maharashtra.

A statue of Lajpat Rai stands at the central square in Shimla, India. Lajpat Nagar and Lajpat Nagar Central Market in New Delhi, Lala Lajpat Rai Hall of Residence at Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur and Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology, Moga are named in his honor. Also many institutes, Schools and Library in his hometown of Jagraon, district Ludhiana are named after him.

See also

References

  1. ^ Lala Lajpat Rai. Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/328063/Lala-Lajpat-Rai
  2. ^ S. K. Mittal and Irfan Habib. “Towards Independence and Socialist Republic: Naujawan Bharat Sabha”. Social Scientist Vol. 8 2, 1979.
  3. ^ a b Norman G. Barrier. “The Arya Samaj and Congress Politics in the Punjab, 1894-1908.” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 26, 1967.
  4. ^ Lal Lajpat Rai. “Europeanization and the Ancient Culture of India.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 145, 1929.”
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