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Themes & Thoughts of the day : September

28 September : Bhagat Singh's birth anniversary
Bhagat Singh

"The aim of life is no more to control the mind, but to develop it harmoniously; not to achieve salvation here after, but to make the best use of it here below; and not to realise truth, beauty and good only in contemplation, but also in the actual experience of daily life; social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity - of opportunity in the social, political and individual life." - Bhagat Singh, from his prison diary, p. 124.

Bhagat Singh (b. 28 September 1907 – d. 23 March 1931) was an Indian socialist considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. He is often referred to as "Shaheed Bhagat Singh", the word "Shaheed" meaning "martyr" in a number of Indian languages. Born into a Sikh family which had earlier been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj, as a teenager Singh studied European revolutionary movements and was attracted to anarchist and Marxist ideologies. He became involved in numerous revolutionary organisations, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) to become one of its main leaders, eventually changing its name to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928.

24 September : Bhikaiji Cama's birth anniversary
Bhikaiji Cama

"This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag." - Bhikaiji Cama, Stuttgart, Germany, 1907.

Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama (b. 24 September 1861 – d. 13 August 1936) was born Bhikai Sorab Patel in Bombay (now Mumbai) in a well-off Parsi family. Her parents, Sorabji Framji Patel and Jaijibai Sorabji Patel, were well known in the city, where her father Sorabji - a lawyer by training and a merchant by profession - was an influential member of the Parsi community. Like many Parsi girls of the time, Bhikhaiji attended Alexandra Native Girl's English Institution. Bhikhaiji was by all accounts a diligent, disciplined child with a flair for languages.

She married to Rustom Cama, who was a wealthy, pro-British lawyer who aspired to enter politics. It was not a happy marriage, and Bhikhaiji spent most of her time and energy in philanthropic activities and social work.

On 22 August 1907, Cama attended the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, where she described the devastating effects of a famine that had struck the Indian subcontinent. In her appeal for human rights, equality and for autonomy from Great Britain, she unfurled what she called the "Flag of Indian Independence".

A lifetime of unparalleled adventure and influence for a woman, Madame Cama demonstrated a woman's true place in a man's world. As she, herself, declared, 'Do not forget the role of women which is also important in building a nation.'

13 September : Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan's death anniversary
Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan

"I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. It would help to build a bridge between English and the Indians." - Noor Inayat Khan.

The prophetic words of Noor Inayat Khan came true, but little did she know that she would be the one winning high honors in relation to her work during World War II.

Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, GC, (b. 2 January 1914 - d. 13 September 1944) was an Allied SOE agent during the Second World War. Also known as "Nora Baker", "Madeleine", and "Jeanne-Marie Rennier," she was of Indian and American origin. As an SOE agent during the Second World War, she became the first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance.

Noor was born in Moscow in 1914 to an Indian father and an American mother. She was a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan. She began a career as a children's writer but Noor fled from Paris to Britain after the occupation of France in 1940. She served with the WAAFs (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) under the name of Nora Baker until February 1943, when she applied to join the SOE. Her father Inayat Khan was born in Vadodara. He was founder of The Sufi Order in the West in 1914 (London) and teacher of Universal Sufism. Her mother Ora Ray Baker (Pirani Ameena Begum) a writer and poet from New Mexico.

On or around 13 October 1943, Noor Inayat Khan was arrested and interrogated by Germans and was sent to prison. In early September of 1944 (on or around the 11th), Inayat Khan and three other SOE agents, were moved to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Early on the morning of 13th September 1944, all four women were executed with a shot to the head. According to a Dutch prisoner who witnessed the execution, Inayat Khan’s last word was “Liberte!”

Although she was an Indian Muslim who passionately believed in Indian Independence she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for a cause neither her nationality nor religion compelled her to fight for. In 1949, Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry off of the battlefield. She was also awarded a British Mention in Dispatches as well as a French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star for her efforts during the war. Noor Inayat Khan is one of the most famous of all the female SOE operatives of World War II, perhaps due to her remarkable actions of self-sacrifice in the name of freedom.

Noor Inayat Khan is commemorated on a stamp issued by the Royal Mail on 25 March 2014.

5 September : Dr. Radhakrishnan's birth anniversary
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature." - Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (b. 5 September 1888 - d. 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice-President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India from 1962 to 1967. One of India's best and most influential twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy, his academic appointments included the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta (1921–1932) and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at University of Oxford (1936–1952). His philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, reinterpreting this tradition for a contemporary understanding. He defended Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism", contributing to the formation of contemporary Hindu identity. He has been influential in shaping the understanding of Hinduism, in both India and the west, and earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between India and the West.

Radhakrishnan was awarded several high awards during his life, including the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954, and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963. Radhakrishnan believed that "teachers should be the best minds in the country". Since 1962, his birthday is celebrated in India as Teachers' Day on 5 September.

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