Having played up Mahatma Gandhi’s message on prohibition often as symbolism to shore up support for the anti-liquor law in the state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has now instructed government officials to prominently display the Mahatma’s message on “seven social sins” on government buildings across the state. Nearly 1.6 lakh government buildings are learnt to have been identified across the state for this exercise.
Opposition RJD said although spreading the Mahatma’s message is welcome, there is “no justification for spending crores on writing those messages”, and that the work can be done by students and volunteers.
In a circular issued by Principal Secretary, General Administration Department, Amir Subhani on December 20, all principal secretaries, department heads, DGP, commissioners and district magistrates were asked to ensure that Gandhi’s “seven sins” are written on government building walls. The circular states, “Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts are very relevant in context of state’s inclusive development and good governance.”
Subhani identified two messages for being particularly relevant for public servants and citizens. The first message says, “Whatever we get from this earth is enough to fulfil our basic needs, but it is not enough to satiate our greed.”
The second message, which has been identified to be put up on walls of government buildings, are the “seven social sins”: siddhant ke bina rajniti (politics without principles), kaam ke bina dhan (wealth without work), vivek ke bina sukh (pleasure without conscience), charitra ke bina hyan (knowledge without character), naitikta ke bina vyapar (commerce without morality), manavta ke bina vigynan (science without humanity), and tyaag ke bina puja (worship without sacrifice).
Nitish has been talking about spreading Gandhi’s message ever since the state celebrated the Champaran satyagrah’s centenary celebrations in April 2017. He has also suggested schools to recount a short story from Gandhi’s life after daily prayers.
Although the government has not set any deadline, the work on writing Gandhi’s “seven sins” on walls of government buildings is likely to be completed within two months, according to officials.
Nalanda District Magistrate Thiyagarajan S M told The Indian Express: “It (the work) has been started. It will be done for close to 5,500 buildings (in the district). These include schools, anganwadi centres, primary health centres (PHCs), APHCs, sub-centres and other government buildings by the end of this month.”
A senior government official at the state headquarters said, “We have identified about 200 buildings in Patna itself. By rough calculation, over 1.6 lakh state government buildings, including schools and primary healthcare centres, have been identified across Bihar’s 38 districts.”
Most districts are getting the messages printed on flax sheet and putting them up on walls. RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tewary said: “Although there is nothing wrong in spreading Gandhi’s messages, but there is no justification for spending crores on writing those messages. It should have been done by students and volunteers…. As for Nitish playing up Gandhi symbolism, I want to ask whether there was no Gandhi or Gandhism when Nitish Kumar had taken liquor shops to villages for 11 years, and when he banned liquor, Gandhi became a mascot for him…. Writing Gandhi’s message on walls is another gimmick.”