In an hour-long lecture outside the JNU administrative block, Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand spoke of the idea of Gandhi’s nation and his vision of a secular India. He asked the audience one simple question — If one wrote a letter to Gandhi today, where would it go?
“Gandhi’s mail from around the world had a single address — his name, Gandhi, Bapu, India. If a letter is written to him today, where would it go? Where will the letter reach? It is a question worth pondering over,” said Apoorvanand.
Talking about how the ashrams and trusts Gandhi lived in couldn’t represent his last address anymore, the professor said one had to look at the leader’s last years to find his mailing address.
“Gandhi had lived in Sabarmati Ashram, but when hapless Muslims went to the ashram to seek refuge during the 2002 riots, the door was shut on their faces. That couldn’t be Gandhi’s last refuge… A lot of trusts are run in his name, but that couldn’t be his last address either… But if one has to find his true address we need to go to the last years of his life… From 1915, he was essentially a wanderer, never staying at one place for too long.”
Touching upon the time between 1946 and 1948, Apoorvanand spoke about Partition and how Gandhi tried to douse the effects of communal conflicts wherever he went.
The professor added that when Gandhi spent his last days at Birla Bhawan on a fast to stop communities in Delhi from killing each other, he was urged by Jawaharlal Nehru to end his fast.
He added that if there was one person whom Gandhi trusted with his idea of a secular nation, it was Nehru.
“That is why I think if there is a letter addressed to Nehru, it should come to this university named after the leader. Gandhi chose Nehru as his last address… because Nehru was the one man committed to Gandhi’s idea of a secular nation… Even when they differed in ideas sometimes, they loved each other… and a place like JNU and its students has a responsibility to protect that vision which Gandhi and Nehru held for the country,” he said.