A very happy Independence Day to you from all of us at PARI! While the 70th Independence Day does have a ring of something special, since it means an independent India is a sterling septuagenarian, we know that we have cherished and celebrated every one of those years with just as much love and pride. We’re hoping to move forward with the same enthusiasm and a little more compassion towards each other.
Since the last year, PARI has come a long way. Our online publication covers the socio-economic, cultural, linguistic, facial and occupational diversity of India. We began by publishing our articles in English. We’re proud to say that a number of our stories are gradually turning multi-lingual, with our volunteer translators working to churn out articles in Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Hindi, Assamese, and Marathi. P. Sainath’s ‘The Benz and the Banjara‘, an article that takes a look at the grim reality behind what is projected as “rural progress”, is a wonderful piece that is available in ten languages. Our Faces project, which aims to present everyday people from across the country that make up rural India, now has 357 faces from 141 villages, 97 districts and 22 states; contributions made by volunteer photographers.
Going back to the struggle for Indian Independence, rural Indians fought in far greater numbers and for more than one kind of freedom. If you’re looking to brush up on history or help a younger citizen build an understanding of where we’ve grown from, you’ve come to a great place — our archival library is bursting with stories to tell and re-tell. We’ve put together a list of ‘Independence Day’ reads that will take you to little-know parts of the country.
In 1997, 50 years into freedom, Sainath returned to some of those villages from where he brought to us tales from the fighters themselves. Here are the stories republished on our website:
<<A village in Uttar Pradesh declared their independence from British rule and paid a heavy price for it. To this day, the tehsil office at Muhammadabad attracts political pilgrims. – read about the history and developments since then here,
‘Sherpur: big sacrifice, small memory‘
From Rampa in Andhra Pradesh, Alluri Sitaramaraju led hill tribes in one of the greatest anti-colonial revolts. The rebellion ended with his death – read about the story behind his fight for tribal rights here,
‘Godavari: and the police still await an attack‘>>
<<In Chhattisgarh, Veer Narayan Singh sought no charity, but gave his life fighting for justice. Do his villagers consider him a bandit or a saviour? – read their recollections here,
‘Sonakhan: when Veer Narayan died twice‘
This village in Kerala faced a battle on all fronts, fighting the British, local landlords, and caste – read about their continuing struggles here,
‘Kalliasseri: in search of Sumukan‘>>
<<Another story from Kalliasseri brings focus to a temple that’s different from most others you’ve seen – read about its involvement and about the ongoing improvements in this village despite the hurdles here,
‘Kalliasseri: still fighting at 50‘
PARI continues to trace and document the lives of the very last freedom fighters…
<<Demathi Dei Sabar, an adivasi woman, and her friends took on gun-toting British officers with nothing but lathis in hand. A story from Nuapada, Odisha – read it here, ‘When Salihan took on the Raj‘
In August 1942, the country was in ferment when a group of poor Odiya villagers took over the running of the Sambalpur court as part of their contribution to the ‘Quit India Movement’ – read about it here, ‘Panimara’s foot soldiers of freedom – 1‘>>
<<And, to know how this tiny village in Odisha, inspired by efforts of non-violent freedom fighters like Gandhi, earned the name ‘Freedom Village’ – read about it here,
‘Panimara’s foot soldiers of freedom – 2‘
We usually hear stories of leaders, ministers, or governors when we read stories of our freedom struggle. However, they were countless ordinary citizens from across the country who made our celebrations today possible. Laxmi Panda was one such fighter who belonged to the Indian National Army – read her story here, ‘The last battle of Laxmi Panda‘>>
<<Baji Mohammed is a Gandhian and a Muslim who heads anti-cow slaughter league of Nabrangpur. As a self-appointed satyagrahi he took part in peaceful protests that led to several blows to his body and health – read about his sacrifice and grit here,
‘Nine decades of non-violence‘
You can find the concise list of these stories in ‘Ten Tales of Freedom‘.