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A FREE INDIA: Communication Design that inspired a republic to give blood, sweat and dream big!

When we study brands, we study the art of establishing an effective communication strategy that captures the attention of our consumers in all the right ways! The same principles are applied to a public campaign; and the attempt to establish fervour and momentum for India's freedom movement is a work of art in itself - Pure; Unfiltered, Strong and Poetic.

The thoughts and emotions which rally behind the mortal bodies of India's martyrs and leaders present an inspiring picture of what words can really do! Let's take a look at some of revolutionary communication design of those times!

#1 - "Ahinsa" - Non Violence and "Satyagraha- "Holding firmly to the truth"

The idea of leading resistance without guns and violence against cruel and heartless oppressors like the British Regime is still a miracle! A concept unheard and unimaginable for cultures of today, too! MK Gandhi implemented the words from an age old Indian epic - "Mahabharata" - a tale of sorrowful war, an epic that describes "Ahimsa" as the highest religion, as the highest valour, as the highest virtue, and mobilised crores of Indians to defy the British rule, without fear of life, without an act of violence from their end.

This is an incredible example of articulating a novel concept, a majestic feat, that set the wheels of freedom in motion, with people ready to die, and not kill their murderers, ready take the blow, but not to return the pain that was meted out to them. People became soldiers overnight, they responded to the call of war, a war that was fought in the most astonishing manner. The British officers and regime killed millions, maimed so many Indians and took lives, but the power of "Ahimsa" broke all barriers and led India to a future that no one could have imagined without the use of guns.

Gandhi has taken the first verse of the Sanskrit shloka and produced a communication design that altered the lives of generations to come. The first line of this shloka is in the honour of non-violence and the second is in the honour of war against the oppressor; with weapons as the means of bringing destruction upon the oppressor. But, that is a man's last resort... And, second route was taken by another great Indian leader - Subash Chandra Bose!


- अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च


- Ahinsa Paramo Dharma

Dharma Ahinsa Tathaiva Cha


- Non-violence is the ultimate "Dharma" To go on war for protecting "Dharma" is even higher.

Gandhi inspired the average man to rise up and fight, with peace and compassion on his side. Here is a re-enactment of one of his speeches from the film - Gandhi

Hindi - "खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी"

English pronunciation - "Khoob ladi mardani thi, woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi"

Meaning - "She fought the war as good as a man! for she was the queen of Jhansi"

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote something that set the fire of freedom ablaze in the whole country, she described the war fought by the bravest of braves, the queen of Jhansi, who went head on into the battle with British army and died in battlefield, but not before she defeated them and broke their vision. It took their all to plan her demise, because she kept defeating and marching forward. This is the moment that filled India with belief and passion for gaining independence from the British. A woman with her kid tied behind her back, riding on a horse, swords out; with a fixed purpose, to die, but not bow down! To show what it is to lead! in the 400 years, India was ruled, never before, a war of this scale was fought. In 1857, with the martyrdom of the queen of Jhansi, the real seed of independence movement was sown. Here is the original poem in Hindi, with a rendition from renowned singer Subha Mudgal -

This is the english translation of the poem's first and 2nd last paragraph:

1st para:

The throne got shook, and the tension erupted among the Raajvanshs, the royal heirs of the throne,

In an aged India, a new wave of youth was spreading,

All the inhabitants of India had realized the worth of their lost freedom,

All of them had decided to get rid of the British rule,

The old swords started glittering again like new ones in the form of the freedom movement in 1857.

From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas (Religious singers of Bandelkhand), we heard the tale of the courage of the Queen of Jhansi relating how gallantly she fought like a man against the British intruders, such was the Queen of Jhansi.

2nd last para:

The queen passed away, her funeral pyre was a divine vehicle,

Fire met divine energy, for she truly deserved divinity,

She was only twenty three, not a human, but an avatar of god,

Freedom came in the form of female, to give us a new lease of life,

She showed us the way, taught us the lesson we needed to learn,

From the mouths of the Bandelas and the Harbolas, we heard the story of a queen!

She fought the war as good as a man! for she was the queen of Jhansi.

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was the first female Satyagrahi (part of Gandhi's Quit India Movement) to be jailed, a fearless poet, who wrote such a powerful account of what occurred in the battle of Jhansi, that it shook the minds of everyone who wanted freedom, but lacked courage. Her poem instilled valour where there was none, her poem is in itself the movement of Indian Freedom struggle.


Hindi - तुम मुझे खून दो, मैं तुम्हे आजादी दूंगा'

English pronunciation - "Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe azaadi dunga"

The British disregard for Indian lives and the bloody mayhem unleashed on Indian citizens can freeze the souls of even the strongest stomachs.

It's a tale of indescribable barbaric acts, and the lowest of lows in the story of human race. It drew an apt response from Subash Chandra Bose, a soldier at heart, a courageous man of great honour.

"Neta" means leader, and that's how Subash Chandra Bose was addressed, whose call to the citizens of the nation still rings a strong bell! A call for valour, a call for sacrifice, a call to fight, a call to become soldier for their motherland! The whole country resonated and repeated his words - "Give me blood, and I will give you freedom". Here is a documentary on Subash Chandra Bose:

This is a radio speech by the Neta ji himself, a great persona, who founded the Indian National Army, a relentless intellectual, who never gave up on the power of words, on the power of human spirit that yearns for freedom!


Tamil - "அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே"

English pronunciation - "Achamillai, achamillai, acham enbathu illaye"

Subramanya Bhaaratiyaar was an extraordinary soul, a man who practised what he preached, and burned the fire of freedom in the millions of young and old indians residing in the state of TamilNadu through his poetic powers. It's no surprise that he worked relentlessly against the idea of British colonisation till his very end.

To escape British tactics, he worked out of Pondicherry and was the chief-editor of the renowned magazine - India! when India was not even a free India. Renowned as a MahaKavi - The great poet, Bhaaratiyaar crushed fear wherever he saw it!

His words unleashed a power that can be experienced only if you read his poetry, his thoughts ignited the flame of freedom far and wide. A feminist, a strong supporter of breaking down barriers of caste and creed, of religion and greed, Bharathi's words echo across TamilNadu and inspire every free soul to fly as high as they can. Here is a documentary on the legend:

#5 - "Distance yourself 'O'people of the world, for India belongs to us"

Hindi - "दूर हटो ऐ दुनिया वालों हिन्दुस्तान हमारा है"

English pronunciation -"Door hato ae duniyawalon, Hindustan hamara hai"

In 1942, Gandhi announced QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT, and soon in 1943 - a Hindi language film named "Kismet" was released that featured the song - "Door hato ae duniyawalon, Hindustan hamara hai", meaning - "Distance yourself 'O'people of the world, for India belongs to us". It became the song of the Quit India Movement, after all, it was the same message. It became so popular that everywhere people chanted it outright. Here is a video with english subtitles, though; they are not perfect.

The British issued warrants of arrest for the poet - Pradeep, who was bestowed the title of "MahaKavi" - A great poet. The song irked British regime, and they wanted to induce fear in the general public, by making the arrest of the writer and composer, but they cleverly disappeared.

In 2011, India honoured Kavi Pradeep by releasing a postal stamp. He also penned a very powerful song that when translated to english says :-

"We have crossed a storm, with great care, to bring our ship home,

O my children, do keep this nation safe in your watch;

See it to it, that this garden does not get devastated,

For our father ( Mahatama Gandhi) has nurtured it with the blood flowing in his heart;

Our martyrs have kept this lamp (nation) burning,

O my children, do keep this nation safe in your watch.

As the biggest democracy in the world celebrates it's moment of freedom, it's important that we reflect on the power of communication that led to this very second. A glorious time awaits, and as the world now battles the crisis of climate change, we can take inspiration from the fearlessness of India's freedom movement and march forward into an era of seeking freedom from vices that bring us down, to believe in the power humanity, and our strength to rise above it all.

Today, as we witness a rise of brands rooted in social entrepreneurship, brands rooted in circular design, brands who emerge from a place where tech and morality meets, it is important that we also take care of crafting messages that resonate with our people, our target customers in the right way.

A good brand is what it "says", a great movement is what it "communicates"; for quality and sincerity of any thought precedes action. A great brand makes sure it executes the meaning inherent in it's message too! without any compromises.

Indian leaders did not sit in a brand and communications class to come up with a strategy. They did it instinctively. It wasn't as simple as it looks. A lot of indian citizens were dependent on the regime for their jobs, for them to truly believe in a free India, and that it was possible to be in one! was nothing short of magic. This is the dream, the promise that drove them to challenge the status-quo.

The Indian freedom movement is an extraordinary tale of "communication"; a saga of words that finally summoned the strength of a nation; it gave wings to people who were caged for 400 years. Their words are a timeless lesson for children of tomorrow and leaders of today. Brandgraphy pays a visit to the pens and hearts of yesteryears with reverence.


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