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New Delhi: The Quit India Movement became the most significant challenge to the British rule since the Great Rebellion of 1857. It was launched on 8 August 1942, demanding complete independence from British Raj.

In 1942, the British government was solely focused on World War II, which resulted in them taking Congress’s demands for freedom fairly lightly.

The Congress “frustrated in its desire to cooperate, after a period of hesitancy and divided counsels, considered it better to adopt the path of non-cooperation as the weapon to enforce the national demands”.

This frustration strengthened Congress’s resolution for non-cooperation, which was then drafted in a meeting at Wardha (in Maharashtra) on 14 July 1942. The resolution was adopted by the All India Congress Committee on 8 August 1942.

Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint

The Quit India Movement appealed to the masses. Even though it was flagged off by the Congress, it displayed a “sporadic outburst” of the anti-British sentiment. This was also when Mahatma Gandhi delivered his famous “do or die” speech in Bombay (now Mumbai) at Gowalia Tank Maidan.

“We shall either free India or die in the attempt, we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery. Let that be your pledge…. Freedom is achieved and be prepared to lay down your lives in the attempt to achieve it,” Gandhi had said.

The movement was not just mere rhetoric. It proved to be a grave threat to the British at the time of World War II, something that they weren’t equipped to handle. Despite unleashing a reign of terror in response to the movement, the British were forced to leave the country in 1947 — five years after the movement was launched.

This makes us think about several things in today’s India that also need orderly withdrawal. On Quit India Movement’s 77th anniversary, ThePrint lists a few irritants that should ideally quit India.

Pollution 

Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint

Indian cities take up 7 out of 10 spots in the world’s most polluted cities, leaving little space for imagination.

The air quality index in the country is 17 times higher than the safety limit. The complexity of this problem lies in responsibility — when it comes to environment, everyone hopes that someone else might swoop in to repair the damage.

Among well-known solutions to air pollution, cutting the use of solid fuel in households can reduce pollution levels by almost 40 per cent.

And let’s not forget plastics. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, India generates close to 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day. To make matters worse, 10,000 tonnes of plastic goes uncollected on a daily basis.

Manual scavenging

Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint

According to official data from National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, 123 manual scavengers have died doing their job since 2017. Despite a ban on manual scavenging, these numbers seem to be consistently rising.

Tamil Nadu witnesses the highest number of sewer deaths with 144 cases, followed closely by Gujarat with 131. These people are on the lowest rung of the ladder and need immediate upliftment.

Delayed justice

Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint

The rape case in Unnao has turned the spotlight once again on the country’s clogged justice system –the original rape case was first filed in July 2018 and had not seen any progress until the accident to the rape victim last month.

Over 3 crore pending cases weigh down our courts today — 70 per cent of these are pending at district levels, while 28 per cent are pending before civil courts. On most occasions, the criminal justice system has needed the push of media scrutiny. Delayed justice not only denies victims of crime their last resort, but also highlights the breakdown of civil society.

Fake news

From Balakot to general elections, fake news is everywhere, colouring people’s perceptions and misleading them.

Research has found that facts were less crucial to some than the emotional desire to bolster national identity. Other studies suggest that a staggering 52 per cent of Indian users were exposed to news via WhatsApp where fake news circulates the most.

Lack of credible news sources also adds to the menace of fake news. All of this screams for end to fake news.

Poor civic sense

Many of us are all too familiar with some people continuing to stare at you even long after uncomfortable eye contact is over. Same goes for men and their sense of etiquette in public.

The most disconcerting Indian habit is the utter disregard for personal space. Disrupting the skip in your step is the occasional spitting and there’s always a risk of an injury from rubbish thrown at you from speeding vehicles. Good civic sense is good common sense: it’s about respect for others and yourself and the world around you.

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