Skip to main content

Paying the price: The likes of Godse and his ilk still rule the roost, systematically destroying the idea of India

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*

Exactly seventy years ago on 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. On his death, in an impromptu and highly emotional radio address to the nation, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India said, “the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.”
Nehru went on to add, “The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented something more than the immediate past, it represented the living, the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom”.
Nehru thus voiced the sentiments of millions of Indians- then and perhaps even today!
Mahatma Gandhi did have his share of detractors; even today, there are several critics of his thoughts and actions. There are some basics of his vision however, which can never be disputed; like his twin doctrine of ‘satyagraha’ (the force of truth) and ‘ahimsa’ (nonviolence) which did not go down well with a section of Indians. His determination to work for more egalitarian and inclusive society where the poor, the downtrodden and the outcastes had a voice was also abhorred by these. Nehru in his eulogy used words like ‘light’, ‘truth’, ‘right path’, ‘freedom’.
Gandhi ultimately had to pay the price for living these values. Godse, a right wing Hindu extremist who assassinated him, represented all that was wrong in Indian society. The assassination of Gandhi was the murder of the ‘father of the nation’ and much more.
That murder continues today too in direct and subtle ways. The likes of Godse and their ilk, rule the roost, systematically destroying the idea of India and cherished values like secularism and pluralism. The Constitution of India, which has been the mainstay of the country with its core principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity is sought to be changed. No opportunity is missed to denigrate the minorities particularly the Muslims and the Christians.
Fascist groups move with impunity determining what one can eat or wear, read and even which films to see. The Dalits, tribals and several other marginalized sections of society are at the receiving end of a system which caters to a few rich and powerful people.
Today those who stand up and speak out for truth and justice; those who take a stand for the vulnerable and the victimized, have to pay a heavy price. Articulate and objective journalists, who relentlessly have crusaded for the truth like Gauri Lankesh, are brutally murdered. Media houses, which take on the Government or their henchmen, have false cases foisted on them and are even sued for ‘defamation’.
Some outstanding intellectuals and rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare have been killed because of their outspoken views against the Hindutva agenda. Other intellectuals and writers are defamed, harassed, and even threatened with sedition.
One does require too much of intelligence to realise that a fairly large section of the media in India today – has become compliant and cowardly, falling easy prey to the corrupt and the powerful.
Human Rights Defenders in India have also been facing a running battle with ‘officialdom.’ Students from prestigious Universities across the country – who have had the audacity to think differently, to defend the secular ethos of the country and freedom of expression, have been hounded, beaten and ostracized. Some have committed suicide and at least one prominent student has just ‘disappeared’.
In several cases, there is the blatant misuse of official machinery like the police, the Income-Tax Department and even the judiciary, to intimidate those who stand up for what is right. Even upright Government Officials who refuse to ‘toe the line’ or support mafias who have a nexus with the political class – are either transferred to a posting of irrelevance or just denied a promotion which is merited.
It is also significant that every year 30 January (the anniversary of Gandhi’s martyrdom) is also observed by the Catholic Church in India as a special ‘Day of Prayer for Peace’.
The focus will be the message of Pope Francis for the day – which calls upon all men and women of goodwill to embrace in a spirit of compassion, the refugees and the displaced, “all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.” Words, which certainly resonate with the person and message of Gandhi.
Gandhi once wrote, “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”
A powerful message indeed. The writing on wall in the India of today is very clear: we have Godses and we have Gandhis – if you dare take the side of Gandhi, just be ready to pay the price!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.