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On January 26, 2010, Arise Free India, a non-profit based in the United States, launched a major initiative in Mumbai, India to give respect and recognition to the thousands of freedom fighters who bravely fought for India’s independence but did not get a chance to share their stories all these years. What the key architects of Indian Freedom movement such as Gandhiji, Nehru, Sardar, and Bose did is well documented. There were countless others alongside them, however, who have been left out of the narrative of the grand Indian fight for freedom.

AFI wants to document and preserve the personal stories and accounts of  these  brave individuals, octogenarians many of them, who made history with their involvement in the Indian freedom movement … before time  mutes their voices forever.

AFI intends to make a series of documentary films connecting their stories for a renewed, contemporary examination of the events leading to India’s independence in 1947. AFI aims to record video interviews with freedom fighters and others impacted by the Indian freedom movement in India, U.SA. and England. AFI intends to interview freedom fighters, scholars and historians across all of India for a contemporary examination of events leading up to India’s independence.  Further, those British who were in India at the time and were impacted by the independence movement will also be interviewed in England for their perspective.

In a culmination to the initiative, the interviews will be compiled to make a series of documentary films, explicitly educating young generation and the masses about the living freedom fighters, their contribution and their current state.

“We tend to take for granted what is ours: our freedom, our ability to choose today.  But only a short 70 years ago, an entire generation had this freedom snatched from them. This exceptional generation of Indians rose far above pettiness and achieved what is every human’s birth right: freedom and liberty. It is our hope, through the efforts of Arise Free India, to remind World—present and future, about the value of sacrifice, about the glory of courage, about the gratification of a life that was spent in serving one’s country” said Deepak Parekh, Chair, Board of Directors, Arise Free India.

The freedom fighters or their family members are invited to register on the NGO’s website—www.arisefreeindia.org and thus place an application for the freedom fighter to be interviewed. Along with that, the NGO have drawn up and then got in touch with a list of freedom fighters who are receiving pension from the Indian Government. Through both these avenues, Arise Free India plans to reach, record and archive stories and experiences of about 10% of the living freedom fighters.One of the Directors on board is Swati Paranjape, the granddaughter of a freedom fighter.

“Participating in Arise Free India project is my way of bringing much deserved recognition, to all those unsung heroes of Indian freedom movement, whose selfless sacrifices paved the way for India’s Independence. The astonishing courage shown by common yet exceptional people like my grandfather, Professor Rajaram Oturkar, illustrated to the world that through nonviolent means a nation can achieve freedom. I feel privileged to be part of such a remarkable effort which will be a resource and a constant source of inspiration to the next generation,” says Swati.

“I was 14 years old when I participated in the Bharat Chhodo Andolan (Quit India movement). The AFI initiative is a good platform for the voices of the few freedom fighters who are still alive to be heard,” added Dharmadhikari.  After being interviewed as a freedom fighter, retired High Court Justice Dharmadhikari agreed to join AFI as an advisor to the Board.

Smita Shah is managing the operations of AFI in India. “Every freedom fighter we interview has a new insight to share, anecdotes which we will never find in history books,” she said, adding that she was surprised most of them had never met Gandhiji and yet, were so influenced by his ideology.

As of May 2011, AFI has interviewed over 90 freedom fighters in Ahmadabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, and Rajkot and in USA. To locate and record interviews of the rest of the freedom fighters, across all of India, AFI is looking to collaborate with universities and research institutions both in USA and in India. AFI is also actively pursuing students in journalism and film to take up the task of recording visual histories. AFI intends to complete the interviews by August 2012.

Dr. Shanti Patel

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G.G. Parikh

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About Arise Free India:Arise Free India (AFI) is a non-profit Corp 501(c)(3) based in the United States as well as a non-profit NGO Trust in India. AFI’s Board of Directors include Americans, British and Indian nationals.  All board members are serving on a voluntary basis.  AFI intends to record interviews in 3 countries: India, United Kingdom and United States of America.

More Information about AFI:Short film about AFI:

Website: http://www.arisefreeindia.org

Further inquiry and contact details:Mr. Deepak Parekh, Chair, Board of Directors – 248.267.9328 (USA); email: chairperson@arisefreeindia.org.Mrs. Smita Shah 093234 62100 (Mumbai); email: smita.rys@gmail.com

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