Govt revives poetry banned during British rule

During India’s struggle for Independence, many revolutionary pieces of literature were banned by the British, as these were considered ‘dangerous’ to the ‘security’ of their rule in India.

The government has now revived a section of this body of literature to mark the 75th year of Independence. To popularise these writings, a host of Union ministers have been roped in too.

A section of the Amrit Mahotsav website, called Swatantra Swar, showcases some of these poems written before 1947, in languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

The section also has videos of “some representative pieces from these proscribed publications” being recited by as many as nine Union ministers, including Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, MoS Culture Meenakshi Lekhi, I&B Minister Anurag Thakur, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, each in a different language.

While Thakur recites Hindi poem “Rashtriya Pataka” from the book “Azaadi ki Bansuri”, Reddy recites Telugu poem “Bharatha Matha Geetham” by Vaddadhi Seetharaamanjaneyulu and Pudipeddhi Kashi Viswanatha Sashtri. Pradhan recites “Daridra Nian” by Odia poet Gangadhar Mishra, Mandaviya recites Gujarati poem “Kasumbi No Rang” from the book Sindhudo by poet Jhaverchand Meghani.

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The Ministry of Culture, the nodal ministry for the 75-week-long Amrit Mahosav celebrations, has identified poems, writings and publications that the British Raj banned and put them together as catalogue, which has been published on the website by the National Archives of India. These works are in nine regional languages — Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Odiya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu.

These are mostly revolutionary pieces penned during India’s struggle for Independence and were considered “dangerous” to the “security” of the British rule in India, officials say. Culture Secretary Govind Mohan says: “In the 66 weeks of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, more than 47,000 programmes have been organised — from commemorating unsung heroes of freedom struggle to documenting local history, from spotlighting states and their contribution to the freedom struggle to poetry based on banned literature.”

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