We just celebrated the 146th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation and ‘Pujari’ of non-violence (Ahimsa) on the 2nd of October. I am sure most of the national and regional political parties must have also celebrated this day by remembering Gandhi but maybe without understanding Gandhi the Mahatma.
There is not a single dignitary who visits India and does not go to Rajghat to pay his/her respects to Gandhi. There is not a speech by such visiting dignitaries that is complete without invoking Gandhi. Yet, when we witness so much of violence around us be it related to the so-called beef killing or violence during elections in our colleges and universities, we are bound to ask ourselves that though Gandhi was physically killed by Nathuram Godse are we not killing his spirit and the very idea called Gandhi every single day? And who is doing it? The very same political parties that swear by Gandhi on every 2nd of October! Is it because the era of Gandhi is dead and gone? Or is it because most of the political party’s leadership is in the hands of people born post-independence struggle and post Gandhi era?
If we turn the pages of history and go through the infamous and tragic incident of Chaura Chauri in early February 1922 then perhaps we could somewhat understand the spirit of Gandhi and the intolerance he had for violence to the extreme extent to suspend the very sacred independence movement. On 2nd of February 1922 at Chaura Chauri in Gorakhpur district of United province, volunteers participating in non-cooperation movement protesting against high meat price in the market place ( What a coincidence that this too involved meat like Dadri) were beaten up by the police and their leaders were arrested. On 4th February, more than 2500 protesters retaliated resulting in police firing that killed three demonstrators. As a counter offensive, the demonstrators on 5th of February burnt the police ‘chauki’ killing about 23 policemen.
Gandhi was so disturbed that he went on a five-day fast as penance for what he perceived as his culpability for the bloodshed. To emphasize the importance of ‘ahimsa’, he halted the very independence movement of non-cooperation which meant everything to him. Every volunteer followed him without a question. Such respect and faith they had in his leadership! Compare that to today’s beef killing in Dadri or the unfortunate violence we witnessed in the just concluded civic body election in Bidhan nagar near Kolkata. None of the political parties feel ashamed of the happenings, rather the game of blame and counter blame… no one has the high morality of getting up and being counted… no one is ready to take responsibility. I feel so nauseous even to listen to the TV debates of my political fraternity. The reason is simple. For Gandhi, it was only the country’s interest and today’s political parties, cutting across the divide, have selfish interest of power at any cost.
Violence most of the time becomes the means to achieve the same. This trend is certainly and visibly growing resulting in peace loving people keeping away and more and more goons getting into the political system. This cannot happen unless the top leadership encourages the same. The competition of money and muscle power has become prominent and perhaps accepted by the society which is a sad day as majority of Indians even today would prefer the path of ‘ahimsa’. Somewhere down the line as if they have lost the hope and are not united.
If there is hope then it is in the Dadri victim’s young son Sartaj, a true soldier of IAF who still says and rightly so -“saare jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara”, forgetting his tragedy, blaming no one and keeping his faith in the administration. This is the light at the end of the tunnel. We in the political arena need to understand that this is what the Gandhian spirit is all about.
Why is there so much of hatred in Indian politics right inside and outside of Parliament not leaving even the TV studios? Alas! There is no Gandhi around. Even so called Gandhians, too, have given up the fight against violence.
One of the root causes of violence is our institutions that are made to fail. Look at the brutal police force in the country. They have become more loyal to the ruling parties than the party workers… The bureaucracy which comprises of brilliant minds has lost its backbone and it’s very purpose of civil service. Their loyalty is to the Government of the day and not to the common man. They are more focused on their career rather than taking a stand in the interest of the country.
The breed of politicians has changed for the worst and so has the breed of civil servants. But yes, it would be grossly unfair to say all are bad, we still do have principled ones, but their numbers are few and far between. Politics has become the biggest employment exchange and ‘dadagiri’ the hallmark of leadership. As a society we do need to weed out the bad from the good and find a Gandhi among the good, to take the spirit of Mahatma forward is the only way for India to survive the onslaught of violence.
– Views expressed by the author are personal