On the occasion of India’s 70th Independence Day, the SocialStory team hit the road to collect stories from different corners of the country that often go untold. Across Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, and Issur, journalists of our team spoke to freedom fighters, retired army officers and families of martyrs. We also met people on the ground, like hawkers selling tricolours, and explored what Independence Day means to them.
We visited Nandita Bose, daughter-in-law of Sarat Chandra Bose, who recounted Netaji’s grand escape from house arrest in 1941. Our team ended up in HS Doreswamy’s modest house in Jayanagar, as the 99-year-old freedom fighter recounted his revolutionary days of bombing post boxes of senior British officers.
We also ended up on bus journey to Issur, a small hamlet in South Karnataka, which had declared itself free from the British Raj in 1943, leading to an armed rebellion and the eventual hanging of five revolutionaries. Kausalya Bai, the daughter-in-law of Hucharayappa, the last surviving witness who partook in the rebellion recalls,
“Bold letterings on a black saree at the entrance of the village literally banned ‘English dogs’ (British representatives) from entering the village. It even warned of fines and punishments for those who dared.”
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In an attempt to find the common roots with our neighbours, which were forcefully made to part ways 70 years ago, we delved into stories from across the border. Kamran Rehmat, a leading Pakistani journalist, recounted his father’s experiences of loss and separation during the partition, and how his journalistic quest led to the freeing of 600 prisoners of war from both sides of the border. Anam Zakaria, a celebrated author from Pakistan, shared her experiences of working with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) through narratives on partition. We also went on a poetic journey with HaikuJam, one of Forbes '50 Best Creative Apps', as it continues to connect the youth from both countries through poetry.
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The week also opened up opportunities to share journeys of successful social enterprises and non profits driving impact investment in India’s social sector. We wrote a story on a cluster of farmer producer companies from rural Telangana, run by 3,000 women. The cluster generated a turnover of Rs 15.5 crore last year. We published a story on ChildFund India, an NGO combating child labour, trafficking, and marriage across 14 states. We also covered the journey of Womenite, an organisation led by a 22-year-old engineer Harshit Gupta, in fighting patriarchy and teaching gender equality to children.
Over the next week, we will continue our Independence Day campaign by bringing more stories from the lost books of history. We will also highlight the long strides made by India in the direction of social progress through discussions on issues, critical analysis of policy, and stories of social entrepreneurs and change makers.
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