2007: A date with the past

Updated: Dec 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
History seems to have caught up with the babus. The year 2007 will see a plethora of events which will be celebrated over the coming 18 months.

Events lined up include the 150th anniversary of 1857, Bhagat Singhs birth centenary, diamond jubilee of his martyrdom and of course, the 60th anniversary of independence.

Given the considerable amount of flak the government drew over the September 7 Vande Mataram centenary, that actually wasnt, authorities are being doubly cautious this time around.

That had been the first of the five historical events that the 68-member National Committee for Centenary Celebrations, chaired by the prime minister, had approved. The Implementation Committee, chaired by the human resources development minister Arjun Singh, is being understandably cautious about the rest of the events.

According to ministry sources, a number of grand occasions have been planned for each of the four days. While the dates for some are obvious, the shadow of the Vande Mataram fiasco has led the government to be cautious about announcing the date for a mega event for the 150th anniversary of 1857.

The first of the four events is the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh on March 23, the venue for which is to be finalised. As Pakistans participation in the celebrations is still unsure, Lahore will be out of bounds. Delhi is the likely venue, along with the major celebrations for his centenary on September 27 and the 60th anniversary of independence on August 15.

The 150th anniversary of independence will be marked at a venue near the site of the actual events, though Red Fort may be out of bounds due to ASI restrictions. The nearby Ramlila Grounds are a possible venue, suggest sources. Among the proposals is to get a handful of soil from the grave of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in Yangon.

Punjab and Mumbai will also host national level events, plans for which are to be announced within the next 20 days, according to a member of the Implementation Committee. States are drawing up their plans too. The Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) has also drawn up plans for a nationwide series of seminars and lectures on various related themes.

Inputs by Kiran Yadav