Thakur Ranjit Singh
On the mid-night of August 14, 1947, the first Prime Minister of Independent India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave the historical, Tryst with Destiny speech:
“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
I dedicate this article on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland and also in memory of my Indian Girmitya (indentured labourers) grandfather Bansi, to all the freedom fighters who were able to deliver this dream – a meeting with fate and cashing on the reality of an Independent India.
Pilgrimage to India
I am a third generation Indo-Fijian. My grandfather Bansi, was displaced from Karouli, in Rajasthan and torn and tricked from his roots by British in 1915, to slave in Fiji to fill their coffers via sugar plantation, as an indentured labourer.
About 14 years ago, I made a pilgrimage to his village.
As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines glided towards Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, I marked a milestone in my life.
This was a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, around midnight of October 20, 2003.
Fate had destined that, I, with my good wife, were passengers on that flight.
I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight.
I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that, one day I would visit my grandfather’s birth land to trace my roots and visit the places that we had read in Holy Scriptures. The land we looked upon with awe and reverence, and called Bharat Mata (Mother India).
As I stepped out of the aircraft, I knelt and picked the Indian soil and anointed on my forehead. This was the earth where Rama and Krishna treaded, and so did my Aja, Bansi. And the land we only knew from Bollywood, and a bit from my Girmitya grandfather. This was his birthplace.
Loyalty to Fiji
When the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Fiji in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers.
She told us that Fiji was now our country, hence we belonged there. As a result, we owed allegiance, loyalty and love for our country, Fiji.
The Indian Lesson
Nationalist leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and the way of life. Ethnocentric Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie ‘Namastey London’ (Greetings to London).
They need to get a translation of the episode where protagonist Akshay shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.
By clasping his hands, Akshay says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of five-thousand-year-old civilisation, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being.
We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion (Sonia Gandhi) to step aside for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President (Abdul Kalam) to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus (India).
English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England.
India has 5600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England.
We have reached the moon and back and yet, many in the West still think low of India.
We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers.
All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.
May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then, Indians clasp their hands in humility because they do not believe that they are above or beneath anyone else.
We are proud that India today is in good hands of Narendra Modi. We join the Indian Diaspora of 25 million people worldwide, to wish the country of our forefathers best of health, wealth, peace, prosperity and economic development.
As we raise the ‘Tiranga,’ the tricolour of India, we pledge to emulate the dreams of our freedom fighters who brought independence to India.
Jai Hind! Hail India!
(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His grandfather, Bansi came as an indentured labourer to Fiji in 1915. Thakur runs his blog site FIJI PUNDIT and an extended version of this article appears on his blog site at: www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz