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General Studies 1 >> Modern Indian History

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1. Context 

With a win for Best Original Song for "Naatu Naatu" at the 2023 Oscars, the Telugu Movie "RRR" is garnering attention on the global stage.

2. Key Points

  • Its story and characters have roots in real historical figures, inspired by the lives of Indian Freedom fighters Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem.
  • Both men were 20th Century revolutionaries who led tribal people in present-day Andhra Pradesh against the British and the Nizams.
  • Bheem was a tribal man but Raju was not. Both leaders died young while resisting colonial rule.
  • Raju and Bheem, along with Ramji Gaur, as prominent leaders who stood against the Nizams.
  • RRR shows the two freedom fighters' lives and friendships in a fictionalised manner, as there is no record of them ever having met in real life.
  • The film spans the period before they joined the freedom struggle.

3. About Alluri Sitharama Raju

  • Raju is believed to have been born in Andhra Pradesh in 1897 or 1898.
  • He is said to have become a sanyasi at the age of 18 and gained a mystical aura among the hill and tribal peoples with his austerity, knowledge of astrology and medicine and his ability to tame wild animals.
  • At a very young age, Raju channelled the discontent of the hill people in Ganjam, Visakhapatnam and Godavari into an effective guerrilla resistance against the British.
  • Colonial rule threatened the tribal's traditional podu (shifting) cultivation, as the government sought to secure forest lands.
  • The Forest Act of 1882 banned the collection of minor forest produce such as roots and leaves and tribal people were forced into labour by the colonial government.
  • While the tribals were subjected to exploitation by muttadars, and village headmen commissioned by the colonial government to extract rent, the new laws and systems threatened their way of life itself.
  • Strong anti-government sentiment, shared by the muttadars who were aggrieved by the curtailment of their powers by the British, exploded into armed resistance in August 1922.
  • Several hundred tribals led by Raju attacked the Chintapalle, Krishnadevipeta and Rajavommangi police stations in the Godavari agency.
  • The Rampa or Manyam Rebellion continued in the form of a guerrilla war until May 1924, when Raju, the Charismatic "Manyam Veerudu" or Hero of the Jungle, was finally captured and executed.
  • The Rampa Rebellion coincided with Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement.
The NCERT history textbook notes that "Raju talked of the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi and said he was inspired by the Non-Cooperation Movement and persuaded people to wear khadi and give up drinking. But at the same time, he asserted that India could be liberated only by the use of force, not non-violence".

4. About Komaram Bheem

  • Komram Bheem was born in the Gond Tribal community at Sankepally village in Komarambheem District, renamed after him in 2016.
  • It is said a jagirdar, who was an informer of the Nizam, occupied his family's land and Bheem killed him in a fit of rage.
  • To escape authorities, he went to Assam and worked as a labourer in coffee and tea plantations for five years.
  • Though he was illiterate, he learned to read and write and later became aware of movements by the likes of Birsa Munda.
  • Around that time, the Nizam government used to collect tax in the name of "Bambram" and "Dupapetti" from people grazing cattle and collecting firewood for cooking.
  • In opposition, Bheem spread the message of "Jal, Jangal, Zameen" (Water, forest, land) among tribal people.
  • This has become a clarion call for indigenous people's rights to natural resources, used in many parts of India to date.
  • Villages in Adilabad were ready with the help of a guerrilla army composed of Gond and Koya Communities men. Bheem trained tribal people to fight with weapons. 
  • However, Nizam's army overwhelmed them and Bheem died at their hands in the Jodeghat forest.

5. Presence in culture

  • In 1986, the Indian Postal Department issued a stamp in honour of Raju and his contribution to India's struggle for Independence.
  • Raju and Bheem both have long been folk heroes in the region and the 1974 Telugu film Alluri Seetarama Raju became very popular.
  • The 1990 Telugu film "Komaram Bheem" was also well-received.

6. Political Claims

  • In May 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 30-feet-tall bronze statue of Alluri Sitarama Raju at Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh in the year-long celebration of the freedom fighter's 125th Birth anniversary began.
  • On the occasion of Raju's 122nd birth Anniversary in 2019, the government of Y S Jagan Mohan Reedy announced the naming of a district after him, acceding to a longstanding demand of the tribal population of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The district of Alluri Sitarama Raju came into being on April 4 last year, made up of Paderu and Rampachodavaram of the existing districts of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari respectively.

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Alluri Sitharama Raju, Komaram Bheem, Gond tribe, Koya tribe, shifting cultivation, Rampa rebellion, The Forest Act of 1882, Non-Cooperation Movement, Bambram, Dupapetti, 
For Mains:
1. Does renaming the district names or Constructing larger statues after freedom fighters inspire the nation instead of taking their ideology? Comment.  (250 Words)
2. Why Indian cinema is far behind to compete with International cinema. Critically Analyze. (250 Words)
3. What is Rampa Rebellion? Discuss the Tribal's contribution to the Indian freedom struggle during the early 20th Century. (250 Words)

Previous year questions

1. In Rampa Rebellion who helped Alluri Sita Rama Raju in his fight against the British? (AP Police constable 2016)
A. Bobbili Dora
B. Jampanna Doraa
C. Mannu Dora
D. Gantam Dora
1. Answer: A

2. With reference to the history of India, Ulgulan or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following events? (UPSC CSE 2020)

(a) The Revolt of 1857

(b) The Mappila Rebellion of 1921

(c) The Indigo Revolt of 1859-60

(d) Birsa Munda’s Revolt of 1899-1900

2. Answer: D
Source: The Indian Express

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