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Forget PM Narendra Modi, meet the man who gave India the real meaning of Swadeshi

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Gandhi_back_in_india1915

By Prachi Mishra

The Swadeshi Movement, India’s first major mass movement, witnessed the rise of various political leaders like Surendranath Banerjee, K.K. Mitra and Prithwishchandra Ray, who  inspired people to actively participate in the protests and rallies.

One of the front-man of the movement was Ashwini Kumar Dutt, who played a pivotal role in making the Swadeshi Movement successful.  He extensively promoted the primary agenda of the protests, i.e. consumption of indigenous products and boycott foreign goods.

Ashwini Kumar was born in Barisal in 1856, just a year before the Sepoy Mutiny, the First Indian War of Independence. After completing his education in law, he settled at his homeland and started practicing at the Barisal Bar. He was told by Raj Narayan Bose, a writer and intellectual of the Bengal Renaissance, “Ashwini, you are meritorious. If you want money and fame, stay in Calcutta. You will earn a lot and become famous. But if you want to serve the country, if you want to serve the Motherland, go to Barisal, your homeland, please. Serve Barisal and you will find everything there.”

While working in Barisal he realized that corruption was particularly high in the government offices. So he decided to preach morality among people through proper education and started the ‘Brajamohan Institution’ in 1884.

The real Make in India

Other than boycotting foreign goods and promoting Indian products, the Swadeshi movement gave more emphasis to constructive programme of empowering people. It gradually developed into a movement which attempted at the vindication of the rights of the people to self- government, i.e. Swaraj.

The main purpose of Swadeshi was to educate the masses and provide employment to them, thus preparing the ground for the subsequent political agitation. The movement focused at encouraging the masses for participating in the protests.

When the Swadeshi Movement began in 1905, Ashwini Kumar Dutt had already laid down the groundwork for it in Bilsar. He had started educational institutions and volunteer organizations to enlighten the masses with the nationalistic ideals.

The Bengal anti-partition movement was most successful in Barisal because it was promoted by the students of BM Institution. In fact, the movement was so strong in the region that the British authority had to send special Gorkha force to punish the people.

Rise of Swadesh Bandhav Samiti

Ashwini Kumar also founded a ‘Swadesh Bandhav Samiti’, a popular volunteer organization. Through the activities of this samiti, Dutt was able to generate an unparalleled mass following, especially among the Muslim population in the area.

The volunteers of the samiti would visit the villages and conduct surveys of the requirements of the people. They used to find out how many people in a village were literate, what was the occupation of the villagers, what type of industry could be developed there and so on. They tried to reach out to the villagers on a daily basis.

In 1906 when famine broke out in Barisal, the ‘Swadesh Bandhav Samiti’ did a lot relief- work. Ashwini Kumar even raised a sum of Rs 96,000/- to redress the suffering of the famine-stricken people.

Taking Swadeshi To Masses

Other than using education and providing basic amenities to people, Ashwini Kumar also made use of the traditional folk culture to spread the message of Swadeshi Movement. He thought that the message of the movement should reach the doors of the masses not through lectures but through songs and musical performances.

Poets like Yaggeshwar Das, Mukunda Das were inspired by him. He asked them to spread the message of the Swadeshi Movement through their literary works. He himself wrote books on religion and patriotism like Bharatgeeti, Atmapratistha, Bhaktiyoga, Durgotsavtattva, Prem and Karmayoga.

Ashwini Kumar was so much successful in mobilizing the masses towards the Swadeshi movement that he became a cause of concern for the Britishers. They feared that arresting a popular figure like him would trigger public opinion against the rulers and people might rise in rebellion. So they decided to deport him to the United Province. But when he was being taken from Barisal all the residents of Barisal, Muslims and Hindus alike, came out on the streets.

Dr. Pabitra Kumar Gupta, former VC of the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya stated in a lecture that during the Swadeshi movement, not a single shop was allowed to sell British goods, and Swadeshi shops were set up in Barisal. This irked the Nawab of Dacca (present day Dhaka) who had a zamindari in Barisal where more than 70% people were Muslim. He asked his subjects through his agent, “Why are you not going to the bilati (foreign) shops? You are listening to what Ashwini Kumar says. Don’t you know that the Hindus hate us? We are separate. Don’t join Ashwini Kumar’s party”.

One Muslim leader then, asked the agent of the Nawab, “When we die of starvation, when there is scarcity of water in the village, when cholera breaks out in our villages, it is the ‘Babu’ (Ashwini Kumar) who always comes to our rescue. . . Can we leave him when he is in distress and being tortured by the Britishers?”

Such was the influence of this man, who always tried to raise the power of the people. Ashwini Kumar believed that the national struggle cannot be successful unless the people are involved in it and so he made great efforts to popularize the Swadeshi movement amongst the masses.

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The Need to Celebrate National Handloom Day in India: Its Significance and Relevance in Modern Times

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day

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National Handloom Day
Significance of National Handloom Day. Pixabay
  • Various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers by the Indian Government
  • More than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women
  • This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate 3rd National Handloom Day

New Delhi, August 7, 2017: In order to keep the country’s traditions alive, and encourage people to wear hand-made loom, National Handloom Day is observed and celebrated in India on August 7. The 3rd National Handloom Day event was held in Guwahati, Assam.

This day is celebrated to remind ourselves of a 1905 Swadeshi Movement during which Indians boycotted British products in favor of the revival of domestic ones and in modern times to encourage people to wear handloom products.

Wearing Handloom is not a practice that should be celebrated for a day but it should be worn all year round to remain rooted in one’s culture, tradition and to support weavers who put their years of experience, time, energy and soul into creating these pieces of art.

Bishnupur Handloom, West Bengal
Bishnupur Handloom from West Bengal. Wikimedia

This year Guwahati was chosen as the venue to celebrate the 3rd National Handloom Day and to grace the occasion a documentary on handloom was also screened.

Ajay Tamta, Union Minister of State, Textiles, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam and Anant Kumar Singh, Textiles Secretary were present at the event. Ajay Tamta said that he appreciates and salutes the handloom weavers for their commitment, dedication, and skill. He said that handloom weavers should be able to earn due value for their products and that the Government is working in this direction for which various initiatives have been undertaken for the betterment of weavers such as- Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme and MUDRA scheme.

According to the Hathkargha Samvardhan Sahayata Scheme, the Government of India will assist the weavers by bearing 90% of the cost of new looms. As per MUDRA scheme, loans can be availed by the weavers of Rs. 50,000/- to Rs. 10 lakh without any security.

The Minister also informed that the Ministry of Textiles has entered into MoUs with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) as per which children of weavers will be able to avail school and university education (with 75% of fees being borne by the Government of India). Sonowal noted that more than 50% of total weaver population of India resides in North Eastern Region, most of which are women. If the government is successful in improving the lifestyle of weavers it will empower various north eastern women and girls.

ALSO READ: ‘Livelihood Creation in India’: The Socioeconomic well being of Women through West Bengal’s Murshidabad Handlooms

Smriti Irani, Union Textiles Minister while addressing a gathering at Ahmedabad said, the weavers will be able to derive the benefit of services like online courses, banking, passport, insurance, PAN card, voter ID and AADHAAR from Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs), from this year onwards. Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

Another MoU was signed between Ministry of Textiles and designers. Under which, the reputed textile designers will work with handloom weavers, passing to them their design assistance and knowledge. This move is expected to improve the earnings of weavers and the market value of the handloom products.

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Jayasri Samyukta Iyer, fashion designer and executive committee member of the Craft Council of India, said that this year, they want to highlight three types of saree’s and its revival process. Kodalli Karuppur saree belonging to Tamil Nadu, it was used in the ancient times during Thanjavur kingdom and seems non-existent now. Patteda Anchu saree belongs to Karnataka, and lastly Gauda Adivasi saree from Goa. Each of the above-mentioned saree’s has an interesting history, but sadly, its relevance is fading away.

Some popular handloom fabrics are Bomkai from Subarnapur, Orissa, Mangalagiri cotton from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Tussar silk from Jharkhand, Paithani Brocade from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Maheshwari from Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, Pochampally Ikat from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Patola weave from Patan, Gujarat.

It is high time that we come up with an initiative to improve marketing strategies for handloom sector in the country and uplift the weaver’s community; also to encourage people to move away from power loom and incorporate handloom products in the form of saree’s, shirts, trousers and skirts in their lives.

There is a need find ways to increase remuneration for the weavers so that they can financially support their families, the future generation is willing to take up weaving and the art of weaving can be sustained. To popularize it amongst youngsters, celebrities can wear handloom saree’s, shirts, skirts, dresses and make a cool style statement out of it, influencing thousands of people at a time.

– by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Terror Attacks wiped out the whole Generation of Balochistan’s Lawyers in Pakistan

It has been 12 days since the lawyers began boycotting and refusing to represent their clients in the court

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Representational Image (Lawyers Movement in Pakistan). Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • The suicide bomb blast on August 8 at the entrance to the emergency department of the hospital in Quetta, has left the region lawless in more than one way
  • As the country mourned the victims, the lawyers said they would boycott court proceedings indefinitely
  • Now, there are very few lawyers left in Baluchistan and it will take years for the legal community to recover from this tragedy

August 19,2016: In what can be described as a devastating and inhumane attack, about 60 senior practicing lawyers and barristers were killed in the Baluchistan’s Capital Quetta on Monday, August 8. The suicide bomb blast on Monday at the entrance to the emergency department of the hospital in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, has left the region lawless in more than one way.

Balochistan faces many problems ranging from a suppressing government to the terrorist organisations, that has left the city in a precarious condition. Baluchistan, which is the home of the decades-old separatist insurgency is filled by real grievances over neglect and lack of political representation, mentioned The Washington Post. It borders Iran and Afghanistan and has abundant natural resources like oil and gas. There is violence between Sunni and Shia sect of the Muslim community, and leaders of the province are widely considered corrupt by many. There have been many reports of journalists being kidnapped as well, that makes it difficult for foreign journalists to step in that area.

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The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, Pakistani Taliban faction and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, have both claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at a hospital in Pakistan’s Quetta that killed more 70 people and injured more than a hundred.

The lawyers were at the emergency unit, because earlier that day (August 8) Bilal Anwar Kasi, the former president of the Balochistan Bar Association was shot by armed men. He was on his way to work when he was attacked and later he died due to the injuries. The lawyers and two cameramen who were present at the hospital to pay respect to Kasi who died from the blast at the gate of the emergency room were killed too.

Map of Balochistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Map of Balochistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

As the country mourned the victims, the lawyers said they would boycott court proceedings indefinitely. It has been 12 days since the start of the boycott and the lawyers have refused to partake in judicial activities. They have refrained from appearing in the district sessions and high courts throughout the city. The lawyers refused to show up to represent their clients and judicial activities remained suspended.

Now, there are very few lawyers left in Baluchistan and it will take years for the legal community to recover from this tragedy.

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A member of the Baluchistan Bar Council, Barkhurdar Khan, was one of the few lawyers who survived the attack. Through social media, he has expressed his sadness and the details of the heartbreaking incident. He has practiced in Quetta for nine months and he shares his grief over the death of his fellow law-practitioners, mentioned a leading news portal.

“All, I repeat ALL senior practicing lawyers and barristers died today. The number of junior lawyers, who are the sole breadwinners of their homes and who are now unemployed runs into hundreds, “said Khan to The Washington Post. “Most of those who died were first-gen educated. The scenes of misery and loss cannot be put into words. The bent shoulders of their fathers, the broken backs of their brothers. Their kids, still oblivious to their own loss, playing and hoping.”

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak: 10 facts you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist

“Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!" is the famous slogan of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist.

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Bal Gangadhar tilak. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879
  • His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar)
  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history

Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is the famous slogan of  Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Tilak, better known as Lok Manya Tilak was a prominent social reformer, lawyer, teacher, journalist and an Indian Nationalist. Tilak was born in a well-cultured family on 23rd July 1856. PM Modi, yesterday, paid tribute to Tilak on his 160th Birth Anniversary. Although such things are known by the majority, there exist some facts unknown and unseen.

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Here are the 10 facts that you probably don’t know about the Indian Nationalist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak-

  • Tilak was an English and Maths teacher in a school co-founded by him in 1880. The success of the school led to the formation of the Deccan Educational Society and Fergusson College in 1884 and 1885 respectively.
Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in
Fergusson College, Pune. Image Source: www.collegeaffairs.in
  • Tilak was among the first Indian generation who received education by earning matriculation in 1872, BA in Maths in 1877 and LL.B degree from Governmental college in 1879. Unfortunately, he was unable to become a postgraduate after failing two attempts.
Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in
Tilak obtained LL.B degree from Goverment Law college. Image Source: lawmantra.co.in
  • Tilak along with Jamsetji TATA, encouraged the Co-Op stores Co. Limited to become a client of Swadeshi goods in 1900 and that store is now known as The Bombay Store.
Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
Jamsetji Tata. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
  • Tilak spent his most of time reading and writing in prison. His book “Gita-Rahasya” was written by him during six years imprisonment in Burma (now Myanmar).
Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com
Geeta Rahasya by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: Flipkart.com
  • Tilak was not only the first leader to start a nationalist movement against Britishers but also one of the first leaders who came up with the concept of ‘Swaraj’ and made it a part of the independence movement.
Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube
Swarajya- an initiative by Lokmanya Tilak. Image Source: YouTube
  • Tilak was also against the Age of Consent Act 1891. He carried out many protests to oppose the bill almost at every level so that the government would regulate the bill.

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  • Tilak was the first to find the origin of the Vedas. In his book titled ‘The Arctic Home in the Vedas’ he stated that Vedas were first composed in the Arctic region. Tilak believed that Mount Meru, discussed in Mahabharata, was situated in North Pole.
"Arctic Home in Vedas" by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:
“Arctic Home in Vedas” by B.G. Tilak. Image Source:
  • Until 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated in the houses only. It was Tilak who urged people to encourage public unity and changed it into a public festival.
Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube
Tilak made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival. Image Source: YouTube
  • Tilak was known for his sacrifices and highest sense of renunciation. He sacrificed the wealth, comforts, family, happiness and health for his beloved ‘Mother India’.
Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter
Tilak funeral attended by more than 2 lakh people. Image Source: Twitter
  • Tilak’s funeral was organised in Mumbai at Chowpatty. His funeral was attended by more than 2 lakh people including Mahatma Gandhi, which was the largest in the Indian history.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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