Eco nationalism driving force behind freedom struggle: Habib

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New Delhi, Sep 26 (UNI) Noted historian Prof Irfan Habib today said economic nationalism was the driving force behind the Independence struggle.

Inaugurating the ' Freedom week' at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library here, the leftist historian said,'' We have forgotten the ideas of national movement, we forgot 1857, this is the right time for us to think that are we loyal with the legacy of national movement?'' On the occasion of revolutionary Bhagat Singh's birth centenary and Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library is celebrating 'Freedom week' from September 26 to October 3 in the capital.

Prof Habib, who had spent his early 15 years under British rule, recalled that economic nationalism which was propounded by the Grand Old Man of India 'Dadabhai Naoroji' was the major driving force behind the national movement.

"Britain through the policy of trade distroyed India, particularly textile industry which was the backbone of the country's economy at that time," he said, adding that poverty in India was the creation of British rule.

Prof Habib told a gathering of scholars, journalists and students that after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi in India the scenario of the national movement totally changed. While other national movement leaders had only spoken about uplifting poor, Gandhi translated this idea into action. Incidentally, the first two movements of Mahatma Gandhi, 'Champaran agitation' and 'Kheda Satyagraha', were against the economic atrocities of the British rulers.

"It was Gandhi who said that poor had a say how India should be governed," he said.

Prof Habib said that against the general perception that Gandhi and Bhagat Singh had major differences they have lot more in common.

Although Bhagat Singh was called terrorist because of his association with revolutionary terrorist movement in India, he was a socialist by heart.

Bhagat Singh had initiated the idea that poor can only be served if there is socialism, Prof Habib added.

According to Prof Habib, Mahatma Gandhi was a devout Hindu and Bhagat Singh was an atheist, still both the leaders emphasised that a nation in order to be a notion must be secular.

Summing up the lecture , Prof Habib pointed out that in the process of reinventing ''ourselves as a nation, we should not deviate from the ideas and concepts of our freedom legacy.'' UNI

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