At the stroke of midnight on 14th of August, in 1947, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, delivered the historic speech titled ‘Tryst with Destiny’. In his speech, he said: “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 new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…”
The speech resonated with fellow countrymen, for that night marked the end of the British rule in the country after 200 years. It was the beginning of a new era, an independent India. And freedom had not come easily. For decades, men and women of the subcontinent had to go to great lengths to free the land from the British. Thousands of people, irrespective of caste, creed, and race, fought unitedly to free the country from the imperialistic rule. This year–2017–marks an important milestone in the country’s history, as India gears up to celebrate its 71st Independence Day.
On this special occasion, Soulveda salutes the heroes who may not have fought with a gun or a sword, but certainly brought about a revolution in the Indian society, even as the struggle for freedom was on. They were ordinary people who evolved into heroes, when they could no longer bear to live in a society plagued by social evils. They were catalysts of change–social reformers, educationists, thinkers and activists who heralded a new wave in the Indian society.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the reformer
When the British set foot in India, they brought with them their culture and education, which deeply influenced the people of India. With the advent of the British system of education, Indians began to question the ancient social evils–the tradition of sati, child marriage, female infanticide and casteism–that still plagued the society. Hence, the need for social and religious reforms arose. This period in the country’s history came to be known as the era of Indian Renaissance. Social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who spearheaded this social awakening, came to be known as the father of Indian Renaissance. Roy fought relentlessly against the evil social practices. He ended the menace of sati and proved to be the saviour of many widows of the time.