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

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.