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Veer Savarkar

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Veer Savarkar

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Contributions and role in freedom struggle.

Context: The invitation extended by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for inauguration of the Yelahanka flyover sparked off a political controversy with the initial intimation indicating that it would be named after Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar.

Who is Veer Savarkar?

Born on May 28, 1883 in Bhagur, a city in Maharashtra’s Nashik.

Nationalism and social reforms:

  1. In his teenage, Savarkar formed a youth organization. Known as Mitra Mela, this organization was put into place to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.
  2. He was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  3. He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
  4. He also Worked on abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar also compared his work to Lord Buddha.
  5. Vinayak Savarkar was a president of Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to 1943. When congress ministries offered resignation on 22nd oct 1939, Hindu mahaasabha under his leadership cooperated with Muslim league to form government in provinces like Sindh, Bengal and NWFP.
  6. In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”.
  7. He was also involved in the Swadeshi movement and later joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party. His instigating patriotic speeches and activities incensed the British Government. As a result, the British Government withdrew his B.A. degree.
  8. He founded the Free India Society. The Society celebrated important dates on the Indian calendar including festivals, freedom movement landmarks, and was dedicated to furthering discussion about Indian freedom.
  9. He believed and advocated the use of arms to free India from the British and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons.

Important works:

  1. In his book, The History of the war of Indian Independence, Savarkar wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
  2. The book was banned by Britishers, but Madam Bhikaji Cama published the book in Netherlands, Germany and France, which eventually reached many Indian revolutionaries.
  3. He was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform.
  4. He founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution.
  5. In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.

His call for a modern society:

  1. Savarkar was a modernist, a rationalist and a strong supporter of social reform.
  2. According to Savarkar, our movies should focus on the positives of the country, keep aside the negatives and have pride in its victories. Our youth should be inspired by movies that focus on the positive side of things.
  3. In his presidential address to the annual session of the Hindu Mahasabha held in Calcutta in 1939, Savarkar spoke about how Hindus and Muslims could bury their historical differences in a common Hindustani constitutional state.
  4. Savarkar often called on his supporters to welcome the age of the modern machine.
  5. In an essay published in the magazine Kirloskar, and republished in a book of his essays on the scientific approach, he argued that India would continue to lag behind Europe as long as its leaders believed in superstition rather than science.
  6. He argued that any social reformer who seeks to root out harmful social practices or preach new truths has first of all to compromise his popularity. E.g.: Jesus was killed. Buddha had to face a murderous attack. Mohammad had to flee, was injured in battle, was condemned as a traitor.

Conclusion:

His name evokes controversy. While some consider him as one of the greatest revolutionaries in the Indian freedom struggle, others consider him a communalist and right-wing leader. His controversial position on Hindutva also continues to inform current political debates. It is time that a wider set of scholars began to engage with Savarkar’s ideas—including controversial ones.

veer_savarkar

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who founded Mitra mela, Abhinav Bharat Society and Free India society, what are the objectives?
  2. Books written by Savarkar?
  3. Savarkar’s book which was published by Madam Bikaji Cama?
  4. Morley- Minto reforms- key changes.
  5. Savarkar’s views on use of arms to free India.
  6. Hindu Mahasabha- key achievements.

Mains Link:

Discuss Veer Savarkar’s contributions to social reforms in the country.

Sources: the Hindu.