In the annals of Indian history, Swami Vivekananda stands tall as a torchbearer of the Indian freedom movement, inspiring generations of freedom fighters with his powerful speeches and teachings. Like the French Revolution, which was ignited by the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, India's own struggle for freedom was catalysed by this revered spiritual leader.

On the occasion of the 160th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, it is important to reflect on the profound contributions he made to the Indian freedom struggle. Swami Vivekananda, born on January 12, 1863, was a spiritual leader, philosopher, and cultural reformer who played a significant role in shaping the nationalist movement in India during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When Vivekananda arrived on the national scene, India was reeling from centuries of colonisation and exploitation. Its political and economic power had been stripped away, and its people had lost touch with their rich cultural heritage and past. But Vivekananda was determined to change this. He reminded Indians of their proud traditions and encouraged them to reclaim their identity.

This message was brought to the world stage in September 1893, when Vivekananda delivered a powerful speech at the Parliament of World's Religions in Chicago. In that address, he declared that "Mother India will attain independence," and his words had a profound impact on both the Western world's perception of India, and on the way Indians viewed themselves. The speech is still remembered today as one of the most powerful and influential of the 19th century.

Vivekananda also brought the idea of Hinduism to America, and his audience was impressed by his speech, which is still talked about and discussed to this date. His explanation of Hinduism, a concept that was not well-understood by Westerners at the time, introduced new ideals and concepts that continue to fascinate people to this day.

Biman Behari Majumdar, a leading socio-political historian of his era, writes that Swami Vivekananda's triumphant return from his first Western tour in 1897 marked a turning point in the history of nationalism in India. In a speech given in Madras on February 14th, 1897, Vivekananda called on his fellow Indians to worship the motherland alone and exclusively for the next fifty years, urging them to "give up being a slave." As Majumdar notes, it was exactly fifty years later, on February 23rd, 1947, that Major Attlee, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced the decision to quit India.

Vivekananda's words had a powerful impact on the freedom fighters of his era, many of whom kept his photo or books close at hand. The British government even described him as a "tough politician" who took cover in saffron robes. Even Mahatma Gandhi, who went on to become a central figure in India's freedom struggle, credited Vivekananda with inspiring him, stating that "I got a thousand times more energy after I read Swami Vivekananda's books."

Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12th, 1863, and passed away on July 4th, 1902. His spiritual mentor was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and Vivekananda credited much of his understanding of God and spirituality to him. He went on to spread this knowledge across India and the world. Though he died at a young age of 39, his teachings and influential quotes have earned him immortality.

Girish Linganna
Defence and Aerospace Analyst

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Tumakuru (K'taka), Feb 6: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's helicopter factory -- the country's largest chopper manufacturing facility -- in Tumakuru district of Karnataka.

Bengaluru-headquartered HAL plans to produce more than 1,000 helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonne with a total business of more than Rs 4 lakh crore over a period of 20 years at this facility in Gubbi taluk, officials said.

The factory, spread across 615 acres for which the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone in 2016, would initially manufacture Light Utility Helicopters (LUH)).

It will enable India to meet its entire requirement of helicopters without import and giving much-needed fillip to the Prime Minister's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' in helicopter design, development, and manufacture, they said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and senior officials of Ministry of Defence were among those present on the occasion.

"It is a dedicated new greenfield helicopter factory which will enhance India's capacity and ecosystem to build helicopters," Singh said.
Assembly polls in Karnataka are due by May.

PM Modi unveiled the LUH, which has been flight tested. The LUH is an indigenously designed and developed three-tonne class, single-engine multipurpose utility helicopter. Initially, the factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year and can be enhanced to 60 and then 90 every year in a phased manner, according to the Defence Ministry.

The factory will be augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) and Indian Multirole Helicopters (IMRHs). It will also be used for maintenance, repair and overhaul of LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and IMRH in the future.

Potential exports of civil LUH will also be catered to from this factory, which is being equipped with state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 standard tools and techniques for its operations, officials said.

The proximity of the factory, with the existing HAL facilities in Bengaluru, will boost the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem in the region and support skill and infrastructure development such as schools, colleges and residential areas, it was noted.

The factory is fully operational after the establishment of facilities like heli-runway, flight hangar, final assembly hangar, structure assembly hangar, air traffic control and various supporting service facilities, officials said.