Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

History of popular slogans raised during Freedom Struggle


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Famous slogans in news

Mains level: Not Much

Inspiring and controversial, this article explains the history of slogans that have endured in India’s politics.

(1) ‘Jai Hind’ by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose popularised ‘Jai Hind’ as a salutation for soldiers of his Indian National Army (INA), which fought alongside Netaji’s ally Japan in the Second World War.
  • But according to some accounts, Netaji did not actually coin the slogan.
  • A book says the term was coined by Zain-ul Abideen Hasan, the son of a collector from Hyderabad, who had gone to Germany to study.
  • There, he met Bose and eventually left his studies to join the INA.
  • Khan was tasked by Bose to look for a military greeting or salutation for the INA’s soldiers, a slogan which was not caste or community-specific, given the all-India basis of the INA.
  • The idea for ‘Jai Hind’ came to Hasan when he was at the Konigsbruck camp in Germany.

(2) ‘Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga’ by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

  • This slogan had origins in a speech Netaji made in Myanmar, then called Burma, on July 4, 1944.
  • Underlining his core philosophy of violence being necessary to achieve independence, he said, “Friends! My comrades in the War of Liberation! Today I demand of you one thing, above all.
  • He ended the speech saying “Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga” (Give me blood and I promise you freedom).

(3) ‘Vande Mataram’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterji

  • The term refers to a sense of respect expressed to the motherland.
  • In 1870, Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote a song which would go on to assume a national stature, but would also be seen as communally divisive by some.
  • Written in Bengali, the song titled ‘Vande Mataram’ was not introduced into the public sphere until the publishing of the novel Anandamath in 1882, of which the song is a part.
  • Vande Mataram soon became the forefront of sentiments expressed during the freedom movement.
  • The novel, set in the early 1770s came against the backdrop of the Fakir-Sannyasi Rebellion against the British in Bengal.

(4) ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ by Maulana Hasrat Mohani

  • ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (Long live the revolution) was first used by Maulana Hasrat Mohani in 1921.
  • Hasrat was his pen name (takhallus) as a revolutionary Urdu poet, which also became his identity as a political leader.
  • Hasrat Mohani was a labour leader, scholar, poet and also one of the founders of the Communist Party of India in 1925.
  • Along with Swami Kumaranand — also involved in the Indian Communist movement — Mohani first raised the demand for complete independence or ‘Poorna Swaraj’, at the Ahmedabad session of the Congress in 1921.
  • His stress on Inquilab was inspired by his urge to fight against social and economic inequality, along with colonialism.
  • Before Mohani coined this slogan, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia made the idea of revolution symbolic of the struggle for oppressed nationalities globally.
  • It was from the mid-1920s that this slogan became a war cry of Bhagat Singh and his Naujawan Bharat Sabha, as well as his Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

(5) ‘Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna’ by Bismil Azimabadi

  • This is the first line of a poem written by Bismil Azimabadi (and NOT Ramprasad Bismil), a freedom fighter and poet from Bihar, after the Jallianwalah Bagh Massacre of 1921 in Amritsar, Punjab.
  • The lines were popularised by Ram Prasad Bismil, another revolutionary.
  • He was a part of the Kakori train robbery, a successful and ambitious operation in which a train filled with British goods and money was robbed for Indian fighters to purchase arms.

(6) ‘Do or Die’ by Gandhi Ji

  • In 1942, the Second World War commencing and the failure of Stafford Cripps Missions – which only promised India a ‘dominion status’ where it would still have to bear allegiance to the King of England .
  • This made Gandhi Ji realise that the movement for freedom needed to be intensified.
  • On August 8, 1942, the All-India Congress Committee met in Gowalia Tank Maidan (August Kranti Maidan) in Bombay.
  • Gandhi addressed thousands after the meeting to spell out the way forward.

(7) ‘Quit India’ by Yusuf Meherally

  • While Gandhi gave the clarion call of ‘Quit India’, the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as Mayor of Mumbai.
  • A few years ago, in 1928, Meherally had also coined the slogan “Simon Go Back” to protest the Simon Commission – that although was meant to work on Indian constitutional reform, but lacked any Indians.
  • Meherally was a Congress Socialist Party member who was actively involved in anti-government protests.


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