Chandigarh 30 June 2010: The heroic welcome being accorded to the Queen’s Baton at various places in the country with great pomp and show is the manifestation of our unconscious slave mentality which speaks volumes about the lack of wisdom and fickle memory of the people.
We should refresh our memories that The Commonwealth countries were once a part of what was known as the British Empire, and were ruled by Britain as their colonies. Some colonies such as Canada and Australia were lands to which British people had emigrated. But the main motive behind the Empire was its expansion and to increase Britain’s wealth and political power by all possible ‘fair and foul’ means, and this was often at the expense of the local people to whom they (British) looted and exploited for centuries. It is a part of history that the British plundered the wealth of the nations which came under the spell of its rule and India tops the list who suffered the most.
Now the rousing welcome accorded to the Queen’s Baton by the leaders across the country is a matter of shame. The Queen’s Baton is reminiscent of the foreign rule. In this context I find it worth mentioning the remarks of Margaret Thatcher (Former British Prime Minister) in the CHOGM (Commonwealth Head Of The Governments Meeting) meeting which should serve as a reminder of the place occupied by the people the British Empire ruled. According to one of Margaret Thatcher’s former aides, and as broadcast in the 1994 PBS video, “The Windsors: A Royal Family, “Mrs. Thatcher, very privately, used to say that CHOGM stood for Compulsory Handouts to Greedy mendicants”. Even Carol Thatcher quoted the Australian press as suggesting that CHOGM stood for “Coons holidaying on government money”.
Let us introspect what for we pay homage to the supreme sacrifices made by our national heroes like Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh, Sardar Udam Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha and many others who did not hesitate to lay the wreath of their prime youth for breaking the shackles of slavery. What would the spirit of Mahatama Gandhi, Father of the Nation, feel like when perceiving the fruits of his wisdom being squandered in celebrating the vanities attached to the Queen’s Baton? Are we not adding an insult to the atrocities meted out to them? Do we worship the loot of the Britishers symbolized by the insignia of the British Queen by such genuflections?
Let us resolve to be true to ourselves and admit the existence of genes of slavery in the blood in our veins even after the six decades of freedom. Only those nations blossom and survive to enjoy the fruits of supreme sacrifices made during the freedom struggle, if its descendants do not forget the agonies attached with their freedom struggles. We have not yet traveled that far that we can forget the inhumane excesses perpetrated by the Britishers. The national festivals like Independence Day have no meaning if we cannot take pride of being the true descendents of the people who fought against the philosophy of the British colonial rule. India that was once known as “Golden Sparrow” in the world was reduced to such low levels that 60% of our population is below the poverty line even today. The reason why we have failed to evolve the policies to wean away the poor thriving at the morsels of food from the garbage heaps is due to the instinct that immersed the nation into slavery infecting our thinking even today. Rather the agonies of the post Independence, which we have inherited from the policies of the colonial rule, Spirit of India’s Freedom struggle calls for contemptuous disdain to “Queen’s Baton”. Such a symbol of the British colonial rule reminds us the horrendous era of slavery, our ancestors were made to traverse.
We celebrate the replacement of Union Jack by unfurling National Flag at Red Fort every year. Why should we not be true to our conscience to the core and shun expression of servitude through jubilations on receiving the Queen’s Baton by keeping the price extracted from us for independence always reverberating in our minds. Let this baton be restricted to the arena of games and remain confined to the venue of games lest another former slave of the British colonial rule takes it to remind their people of the “Glory of the British Colonial Rule”. The Government of India should be sane enough to wake up to intervene and disband this show of mental bankruptcy. That is the least that is expected from a Sovereign Self Respecting Nation. I am not oppose to the holding of ‘Commonwealth Games’ but there has to be some limit to mawkishness and sentimentalism
Even the nomenclature of the ‘Common Wealth” needs to be revisited and changed as it is no more relevant today. Diplomatic corps and International sports bodies should also re-examine the relevance of Common Wealth and rediscover the new Emblem or banner replacing the ‘Common Wealth’, under which sovereign nation could organize sports events of International magnitude by not causing, even remotely, any sense of subjugation or obsequiousness to any Sovereign Nation displaying the pride of their hard earned sovereignty.