Eight Things To Know About Quit India

By Nitya Menon

“This is the mantra, ‘Do or Die’, that I give you. You imprint it on your heart and let every breath of yours give an expression to it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

On August 8th, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement (also known as the August movement) in Bombay. This movement was a strong and vehement appeal made by the Congress to the British to leave India once and for all. The Indians demanded what they called ‘an orderly British withdrawal’ from India. Here are eight interesting facts about the Quit India Movement that will give you a better insight into India’s freedom struggle:

1. The Beginning

The people involved in the Quit India Movement gathered at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan during the All India Congress Committee session. This was the place where Mahatma Gandhi delivered his first speech that awakened a fierce spirit and desire for freedom among Indians, marking the beginning of the movement. The maidan also houses a monument as a tribute to this historical event. 

2. The Cripps Mission

This movement was started after the Cripps Mission failed in India. Headed by a senior British minister called Sir Stafford Cripps, this mission was an attempt by the British to secure support and cooperation from India for efforts in World War II. This mission failed for three main reasons:

– It faced Gandhi’s strong opposition which led to the Indian National Congress to reject the offer
– Cripps’ modification of the offer to include self-government had no real transfer of power
– There was an active effort by the Viceroy and Secretary of State for India to sabotage the mission.

3. “Do or Die!”
Illustration: Souren Roy

It is believed that within hours of Gandhiji’s historic ‘Do or Die’ speech, almost the entire INC was imprisoned without trial. Several national leaders such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Mahatma Gandhi himself were arrested. Little did they know that their merciless imprisonment would become the catalyst in eventually securing India’s freedom. 

4. Congress Suspended

The British response to the movement was to declare the Indian National Congress an unlawful association. Everyone involved was arrested, offices were raided, and funds were frozen. In fact, more than 10,000 people were arrested for conducting peaceful protests across the country. The then viceroy and Governor-General of India, Lord Linlithgow, adopted a policy of brutal violence to stem the movement. However, this backfired on the British as it only garnered more sympathy among the general population towards the movement.

5. Indian Tricolour Hoisted

Despite several police warnings and government bans, Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remaining AICC session, and on August 9, in the presence of a large crowd at the Gowalia Tank Maidan, she proudly hoisted the Indian tricolour. She was immensely influenced by the thoughts and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, and was honoured with the Bharat Ratna Award in 1997. 

6. Underground News
Illustration: Adyatha Bhat

Few of the younger leaders took upon the duty to broadcast news through an underground station, dubbed the Congress Radio. Organised by Dr. Usha Mehta, the operators had to keep moving and shifting their broadcasting equipment to avoid being captured by the British. On August 14th, 1942, a week after the Quit India Movement was launched, the radio went live with the following announcement announced by Dr. Usha Mehta herself: 

“This is the Congress Radio calling on (a wavelength of) 42.34 meters from somewhere in India.”

7. Young Students Martyred

On August 8th, 1942, a group of seven young students tried to hoist the Indian flag on the Patna Collectorate building to show their affiliation to the freedom struggle. What began as a patriotic gesture ended in tragedy, when, without an iota of hesitation, they were shot dead by the police. There is a memorial in their memory on the Collectorate premises in Patna. It’s known as the Shaheed Smarak, meaning Martyr’s Memorial.

8. A New India Shines
Illustration: Souren Roy

As we all know, the British had been refusing to give India its independence for the fear of loss of power and dominance over colonies in Asia. However, after the Quit India Movement, the British government realised that they could no longer keep Indians under their control. India’s walk down the long road to freedom had entered its final chapter. After the conclusion of World War II in 1945, India gained freedom on August 15th, 1947. 

Amar Chitra Katha’s vast collection of freedom fighter biographies is now available on the ACK Comics app, as well as on major e-tailers.  

Muthulakshmi Reddy (1886-1968)

Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy defied her mother’s wishes, which was to get her married off at a young age, and got educated instead. She was the first woman to get admission to Maharaja College, despite opposition from society at large. She then joined Madras Medical College, where she was the first female student in the department of surgery. She graduated in 1912, becoming the first woman medical graduate in India. In 1927, she even became the first female Indian member of a Legislative Council in British India. She was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. In fact, in 1930, she resigned from the Legislative Council in protest of Gandhi’s arrest after the Salt March.

Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

Muthulakshmi fought for the abolishment of the devadasi system where young girls were dedicated to the service of a temple or deity for the rest of their lives. She started the Avvai Home and Orphanage to provide protection and education for all women and children in need of it, which is still active today. She also set up the Cancer Institute (WIA), Chennai, in 1954. This was the second specialized cancer centre in India, after the Tata Memorial Hospital in Bombay. In 1956, the Government of India awarded her the Padma Bushan as a recognition of her service.

Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

Read her full story in Women Pathbreakers, now available on the ACK Comics app, as well as on major e-tailers.

A Brief History Of The Indian Flag

From the first unofficial flag to the tricolour we unfurl today, here is as an interesting timeline tracing the evolution of the Indian flag.

Did you know?

Illustration: ACK Design Team

The Many Benefits Of Bananas

Loaded with fibre and antioxidants, banana boasts a multitude of health benefits. However, the fruit is not the only part of the banana plant that is useful. The leaves, trunk, and peel are also used in various way across the country!

Illustration: Divyesh Sangani

Rakshabandhan Through The Ages

By Samyukhtha Sunil

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated across the country to acknowledge the divine and inseparable bond between siblings in the Indian subcontinent. The name is derived from two Sanskrit words; Raksha signifies the protection the brother promises to his sister, and Bandhan indicates the irreplaceable bond between them. A sacred thread called a rakhi is tied by the sister around the brother’s wrists as a symbol of their bond.

While the tradition of Raksha Bandhan can be traced back to many Puranic tales, Indian history also has interesting legends associated with this festival. 

Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun

Images: Wikimedia   Illustration: ACK Design Team

Post the death of her husband, Rana Sanga, Chittor’s Rani Karnavati took over the reins of the kingdom under the name of her elder son, Vikramjeet. The fear of a possible invasion had begun to make rounds within the kingdom, and sure enough, soon, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat attacked Mewar for the second time. With hopes to garner support from other kingdoms, the Queen wrote a letter to Mughal emperor Humayun, attaching a rakhi with the letter. 

Previously, In 1527, Rana Sanga and his men had faced Humayun’s father, Babur, in battle, with Babar walking away the victor. However, Humayun was so overwhelmed by Karnavati’s gesture that he decided to help the queen defend Mewar at all costs. Unfortunately, by the time Humayun reached Chittor, Karnavati had already immolated herself by practising jauhar, a custom that now stands abolished. Humayun later recaptured the kingdom and restored it to Vikramjeet.     

Roxana and King Porus

When Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE, his wife Roxana feared for her husband’s life. Feeling helpless, she resorted to sending a rakhi to King Porus, the ruler of the Pauravas, requesting him not to harm her husband. In the battle of Hydaspes fought on the banks of the river Jhelum, it is believed that the rakhi on his own wrist reminded Porus of the promise. Ultimately, he refrained from attacking Alexander, losing the battle in the process. Still, Porus managed to gain immense respect from Alexander who made him the governor of his own kingdom.

Rabindranath Tagore

Illustration: Souren Roy and Ram Waeerkar

During the partition of Bengal in 1905, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was strongly moved by the symbolism of Raksha Bandhan. Tagore began a series of Rakhi Mahotsavs to bring Hindu and Muslim Bengalis together to celebrate togetherness. His message was intended at unifying and appreciating brotherhood among fellow countrymen, while collectively fighting against the larger enemy, the British. 

The love in my body and heart
For the earth’s shadow and light
Has stayed over years.

With its cares and its hope it has thrown
A language of its own
Into blue skies.

It lives in my joys and glooms
In the spring night’s buds and blooms
Like a Rakhi-band
On the Future’s hand.

Raksha Bandhan today

Illustration: Ritoparna Hazra

The festival is still celebrated with the same fervour and enthusiasm of years past, but its rituals and traditions have undergone a drastic transformation influenced by technology and migration over the years. Indians view the festival as an occasion for the entire family to gather and celebrate as one large unit. Sisters eagerly look forward to gifts that will be given to them by their brothers, who, in turn, are treated to sweets often prepared by their siblings. 

How many of these incidents did you know about? Share them with a sibling, friend and a family member in the spirit of the festival! Happy Raksha Bandhan, everyone!

Famous Quotes #5

Avaiyyar was a title carried by multiple Tamil poetesses, active in different periods of Tamil literature. The Avvaiyar were some of the most important female poets in Tamil literature. They were largely active from the 1st century CE to the 14th century CE and wrote on issues both social and political. Many poems by the Avvaiyar are still recited by children in Tamil Nadu. Here is an inspiring poem by one of the Avvaiyar.

Illustration: G. R. Naik

Read more about these legendary Tamil poetesses in Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘Tales of Avvaiyar’, available on the ACK Comics app as well as Amazon, Flipkart, and other major e-tailers.

The Man Who Made India Fly

Illustration: Souren Roy

Have you ever looked up in the sky and seen an Air India plane soar through the skies? While strolling through shopping malls, have you ever come across a Lakmé store? Have you ever heard about TISS? If your answer is yes to any one of these questions, then you’re about to read about the man who made all of this possible – Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata. 

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata was born to Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and Suzanne Briere in Paris on July 29th, 1904. In Persian, the name ‘Jehangir’ meant ‘Conqueror of the World’. J.R.D. Tata’s fate was sealed right at his birth. 

Did You Know?
For some odd reason, one of Jehangir’s teachers would call him
L’Egyptien which is French for The Egyptian.

In his early years, J.R.D. Tata studied at the Janson De Sailly School in Paris. He was a bright student who was ahead of his peers. The syllabus did not excite him. Being born in Paris, Jehangir was more fluent in French than in English. Young Jehangir was also quite the prankster. From a young age itself, he was fascinated by planes and wanted to become a pilot himself. His passion to become a pilot was so strong that during the First World War, he would see zeppelins soar in the sky and wish he was born a couple of years early so that he could be a part of the war as a fighter pilot. Quite an unusual dream for an eight-year-old!

Illustration: Souren Roy

Years later, when Jehangir was all set to take admission at Cambridge University, he was denied admission due to a French Law that required all citizens to join the army for two years as soon as they turned 20. Jehangir had to postpone his dreams of pursuing higher education. There he served as a typist. Soon after, he had to journey back home to India.

Jehangir joined the Tata group as an unpaid apprentice, working under the guidance of John Peterson, the Director-in-charge of Tata Steel in Bombay. For the next five years, Jehangir was trained to perfection. These were some of his most important years. During the course of this period, he found himself learning a lot about the company’s history and about steel. There were several industrial visits to Jamshedpur for keen and thorough observation and better understanding. 

Illustration: Souren Roy

The unfortunate death of his father made him the head of his family at the young age of 22. Jehangir took it upon himself to settle his father’s debts and to take care of his siblings. He inherited his father’s position as a permanent director of Tata Sons. 

In 1929, a flying club opened up in Bombay. Jehangir quickly enrolled himself and 12 days later, he had the very first pilot license issued in India. For him, it was a dream come true! 

Illustration: Souren Roy

The Birth of Air India 

Upon hearing that the Imperial Service of England planned to start flights from London to Karachi, J.R.D. Tata proposed to start flights from Bombay to Karachi. Initially, there was a lot of struggle, J.R.D. Tata had to really persuade the higher-ups at Tata Sons to get a green signal, and then later seek permissions from the government. But all that effort finally paid off when on October 15th, 1932, he personally flew from Karachi to Bombay with the first batch of mail. This was the birth of the Tata Air Mail Service.  

In 1948, a joint venture was set up between Tata and the government thus giving birth to the Tata-Air India International. Soon after, the government decided to nationalise Air India, and Jehangir was appointed chairman by the Indian government, retaining a position as a director on the Board of Indian Airlines for 25 years. 

Illustration: Souren Roy

J.R.D. Tata always worked towards bringing about development in India. In 1941, through the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, he established Asia’s first cancer hospital, the Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer, Research and Treatment, in Bombay. He also founded the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 1936, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945 and the National Centre for Performing Arts. He founded Tata Motors in 1945. Then, in 1952, he founded Lakmé. In 1968, he founded Tata Consultancy Services and Titan Industries in 1987.

J.R.D. Tata was a kind man who took special care of all his employees. He believed that the workforce was the backbone of any organization. He ensured that they only worked for eight hours a day. He also ensured that all workers received benefits such as free medical aid, provident schemes, accident compensation schemes, and much more. These later went on to be statutory requirements in India. 

Read more about J.R.D. Tata’s life in our Amar Chitra Katha biography on him, now available on the ACK Comics app and all major retailers.

The World’s Highest Battlefield

By Samyukhtha Sunil

Situated at a height of nearly 11,000 ft above sea level, Dras in Kargil District happens to be the coldest inhabited place in India. It is also called the ‘Gateway to Ladakh’. Now a tourist hub for trekking and mountaineering, this valley also served as the final battlefield in the Kargil war with Pakistan, in the summer of 1999. The Kargil War is one of the most significant victories for the Indian army. As India won back the last of its territories illegally captured by its enemies on July 26th, 1999, echoes of victory reverberated across the valley and the rest of the country. For the 21 years that have followed, this day has been celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) to commemorate our heroic Indian soldiers who bravely sacrificed their lives for their country.

Illustration: Mrinal Roy

The History Behind the Kargil War 

Kargil is a very sparsely populated district in Kashmir amongst some of the world’s highest mountains. The region is in close proximity to the LoC (Line of Control). Kargil is prone to extremely harsh weather conditions where the temperatures drop down to -48 degrees celsius. Using these conditions to their advantage, the Pakistani army had been secretly sending in troops to the Indian side of the LoC, breaching the border and attempting to weaken India’s hold over Kashmir and the Siachen Glacier, which is located in the eastern Karakoram Himalayan range. This prompted India to retaliate, which eventually became the official declaration of war. 

The war lasted for nearly three months between May and July and resulted in several casualties on both sides. Pakistan named its action of taking control of the Indian border as ‘Operation Badr’ while India’s retaliation was named ‘Operation Vijay’. Eventually, Kargil Vijay Diwas was named after the massive success of this operation. 

The Heroes of Kargil

Needless to say, the Indian army faced its enemies straight in the eyes, fearlessly, and won the battle with a combination of extreme resourcefulness and sheer courage. Four of our Indian soldiers were awarded the prestigious Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military honour recognising marvellous acts of bravery during a war. 

  • Captain Vikram Batra

Illustration: Durgesh Velhal

Popularly called ‘Sher Shah’, Captain Vikram Batra was a braveheart who breathed his last while saving a fellow soldier at a young age of 24. Due to his exemplary feat, he was given innumerable titles such as the ‘Tiger of Dras’, the ‘Kargil Hero’ and the ‘Lion of Kargil’. Captain Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously which was received by his father G.L. Batra. 

  • Rifleman Sanjay Kumar 

Illustration: Mrinal Roy

One amongst only three living Param Vir Chakra recipients, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar stared death in the face multiple times during the war. From holding the burning hot barrel of a gun while shooting enemies to single-handedly destroying enemy bunkers, he fought tirelessly, despite being severely wounded.

  • Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav

Illustration: Zoheb Akbar

The youngest recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav was just 19 years old when he fought the war. He was the sole survivor of the attack on Tiger Hill, in which he sustained several gunshots that left one of his arms immobile. In a daring response, he heroically attacked the enemy while exhorting the rest of his unit to retreat to safety.

  • Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey

Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

A hero who entered the Indian army with the vision of receiving a Param Vir Chakra, Lieutenant Manoj Pandey achieved his life-long dream post the Kargil war. The brave lieutenant managed to destroy an enemy bunker, sacrificing himself in a shower of bullets.

Besides these heroes, eleven other soldiers were awarded the Mahavir Chakra as well. 

Victory Day 

In the last week of July 1999, the Indian army launched its final attack which was backed up and powerfully coordinated by the Indian Air Force. In the days that followed, the Dras region began to notice Pakistani troops pulling back and the battle came to an end on July 26th, marking a tremendous victory for the Indian armed forces. 

Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj

To commemorate this occasion, the Indian army celebrates this day as ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ in memory of over 500 soldiers who lost their lives in battle. The celebrations include a brass band display followed by a memorial service held by the Indian army at the Kargil War memorial. The war memorial which is situated in Dras is a symbol of patriotism that will make any Indian gleam with pride. We salute our heroes that risk their lives each day to guard our nation, no matter what the weather, no matter what the terrain, no matter what the difficulty, no matter what it takes. 

Read the full story of the brave soldiers of India in Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘Param Vir Chakra’ now available on ACK Comics app, Amazon, Flipkart, and other major e-tailers.

India’s First ‘Ace’ Fighter Pilot

By Samyukhtha Sunil

In the wake of the Great War of 1914, India, like most other European colonies, was not spared the devastating amount of damage and destruction across its territory. Over one million Indian soldiers were deployed to fight battles both within the country and overseas. Over a span of four years, the war cost the lives of nearly 74,000 Indian soldiers. Very few Indians served in the Royal Air Force and were trained to fly combat jets at that point in history. Amongst them was a gifted fighter pilot whose legacy went on to be recognized as ‘India’s first fighter ace’; Lieutenant Indra Lal ‘Laddie’ Roy was the youngest and the only Indian fighter pilot to be awarded the title of ‘ace’. 102 years on, his story of pure bravery and valour stands strong.  

Indra Roy was born on December 2, 1898, in Kolkata to Piera Lal Roy and Lolita Roy. The Roy family was influential and illustrious with most of its members having tasted success either in the field of bureaucracy or sports. Having done most of his growing up in London, Indra Roy was still in school in 1914 when war was declared. 

As a bright teenager, Indra was determined to serve in the war and signed up for the cadet forces in his school. Indra turned down a scholarship from the prestigious Oxford University and did not let anything stand in the way of his dream of becoming a fighter pilot. He was enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps after two long-drawn attempts. With his exuberance, charm, and undying determination to learn, he swiftly climbed through the ranks. He also became wildly popular amongst his fellow pilots. Roy was soon flying over parts of France and dared to perform dangerous manoeuvres way ahead of his experience. However, on December 6, 1917, Indra’s fighter jet was shot down by the Germans in France and he lost consciousness and endured a severe injury. The doctors declared him to be dead, sending his mortal remains to a morgue. 

In a dramatic turn of events, Indra, in fact, was not dead and regained consciousness while he was still at the morgue. He banged loudly on the morgue door, terrifying the morgue owner who only let him out upon the arrival of medical officials. Despite his miraculous return from death itself, Roy was deemed unfit to fly and was asked to prepare for a long journey towards recovery. Even in those moments, it is believed that his passion for fighting in the war remained unwavering. He invested the majority of his recovery period designing aircrafts that prioritized the safety of the pilots that operated them. He created innumerable sketches of aircrafts during this period, many of which are now preserved in the Indian Air Force Museum in Delhi. 

Illustration: Samhita Sonti

In less than a year’s time, Indra had recovered and was once again ready to conquer the skies. After endless pestering, the officials finally gave in and allowed the stubborn yet determined fighter to return to his haven. Even more motivated, Indra returned to the skies where he trained hard and brought down his first German plane in less than a month! The weeks that followed witnessed a steep rise in his exemplary journey towards success. Ever since his return to flying in June 1918, he recorded over 170 flying hours and ten victories (two shared) within a span of thirteen days. He took down a total of nine German fighter aircrafts, becoming the first and only Indian to ever achieve the title of fighter ace. This was considered to be one of the most successful comebacks for any combat pilot in that period and for a boy who was young as 19, this was an unimaginable feat that Indra had accomplished. 

Unfortunately, Indra’s successful return was short-lived, with his second encounter with death occurring on July 22, 1918, one that he did not get to come back from. In an aerial dogfight, Indra’s jet was shot down by four Fokker D.VIIs. Two of those attackers were shot down in a befitting response by the Royal Flying Corps but Roy went down in flames over Carvin in France. He did not survive the crash and succumbed to his injuries. He was just a few months ahead of turning 20. 

Indra’s valour and determination were so inspiring that the Red Baron (Manfred von Richtofen), a German flying ace pilot, paid him a tribute by dropping a floral wreath over the spot in Carvin where Roy’s plane went down. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the first Indian to ever receive that honour. 

Indra Lal Roy was laid to rest at the Estevelles Communal Cemetery, France in a grave that bears a simple yet well-worded description. Written in Bengali, it reads ‘Maha birer samadhi; sambhram dekhao, sparsha koro na’. Translated, this means, ‘The grave of a courageous warrior; respect it, do not touch it.’ Roy’s nephew Subroto Mukherjee went on to become the first chief of the Indian Air Force and also served in World War II. Indra’s legacy of strength, fearlessness and perseverance live on not just in the history of India but of the world too. We celebrate the life of this young martyr who showed aspiring fighter pilots that the sky is never the limit! 

Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962)

Every year, July 1st is celebrated as National Doctor’s Day in honour of the legendary physician and second Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, whose birth and death anniversaries happen to be on the same date.

Dr Roy was an activist who believed that the youth of India needed to be healthy and fit to fight for the nation. He did his best to not only treat people but also teach the basics of medicine to women and youth who would, in turn, serve the people of the country. That’s not all, he was also the family doctor of Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1933, during a self-purification fast in Pune, Gandhiji fell sick. When Dr Roy gave him medication, he refused, “Why should I take your treatment? Do you treat four hundred million of my countrymen free?” Dr Roy replied, “No Gandhiji, I could not treat all patients free. But I came not to treat Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but to treat “him” who to me represents the four hundred million people of my country.” Later, Gandhiji relented and followed the doctor’s orders.

To the millions of doctors who follow in the steps of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, especially in these trying times, we salute your spirit and strength. Not all superheroes wear a cape, some fight relentlessly behind a mask.