It is a picture story. It recalls the story of freedom through pictures. It also explains the idea that led to the first war of Independence in 1857.
At a function in Delhi, Lata Mangeskar sang the patriotic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon”. She called upon the Indians to recall with tearful eyes the sacrifices of Indian freedom fighters.
The English East India Company came to India for trade. But with its superior weapons of diplomacy, they extended its power in the 18 th century. Indian princes were divided and short-sighted. People in India had no peace due to constant fights among the states of the country. They sought the help of the English merchants to defeat each other. These rivalries helped the Company to defeat and subdue Indian princes one by one.
A far-sighted ruler like the brave Tipu Sultan of Mysore fought the British till he died fighting.
Now Indians reacted to the conquests made by the English Company. Some of them thanked God as well as the British for restoring peace in the country and stopping looting. They said their destiny was linked with the English.
But there were others who felt unhappy. They complained that the white man had killed or dethroned their kings. No doubt some kings were bad, but after all, they were Indians. Under the white rulers, they had become slaves.
Some religious leaders supported the social evils such as untouchability and child marriage. They forbade crossing the seas and going abroad. A few said that women were to blame for all the misery. The truth was that the Indians had lost self-respect. The white hated and disbelieved them.
The English were merchants first. Their aim was to make quick profits. They imposed heavy taxes on the farmers. They sent many farmers to jail for failing to pay their tax arrears. They destroyed Indian cottage industries also in order to sell goods manufactured in England. They exempted all goods imported from England from duties. Thus they ruined Indian artisans and their business.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a learned social reformer from Bengal, understood what was wrong with the country. He called upon the people to feel proud of their ancient culture, and get the society rid of silly superstitions. He pointed out that all religions preached the same thing. He understood the importance of science and modem knowledge. He started newspapers but the British stopped them in 1823. He crossed the seas and went to England to see what made the British so powerful. He then adopted the middle path.