Skip to main content

How Gandhian values have become 'casualty' in India under majoritarian BJP rule

By Sandeep Pandey* 

A Muslim youth was beaten recently when he tried to witness the famous garba performance during the Hindu religious nine days festival of Navratri in Gujarat. There was a time when Muslims could easily participate in Garbha events in an atmosphere of cordiality.
Bilkis Bano was gang raped in 2002 Gujarat communal violence, her 3 years old daughter, the child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 accused were awarded life term. However, recently a District level committee has decided to release all the culprits. A ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader has described some of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins, the highest among the Hindu hierarchical caste system.
In a communally polarized Gujarat today most Muslims feel offended by the decision of the government and BJP supporters either justify the release of rapists and murderers or just ignore the ignominious decision.
Mahatma Gandhi came from the Gujarat state of India. He is the most well known icon associated with India internationally. Gautam Buddha has probably a larger following but that is outside India and therefore he is seen as an international figure more in the company of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammad.
Mahatma Gandhi is most famous for two values that he espoused – truth and non-violence. Unfortunately both these values have become a casualty in an India dominated by majoritarian rule under the BJP. Truth has a new version called post-truth and violence is selectively being justified depending on the background of people involved.
Truth has been dissociated from facts. Now what one believes or feels and develops a strong passion for is considered the truth. It doesn’t matter that it is a distorted version of history. Now even mythology is being passed off as history.
Majoritarian violence is being given a nationalist colour and hence is being justified. The caste and religion of perpetrator and victim will decide whether the perpetrator will get punishment or not, like in the case of Bilkis Bano. The victim on the other hand if doesn’t belong to upper caste and Hindu religion could very well become the accused.
For example, a BJP leader Nupur Sharma made some unsavory comments on Prophet Mohammad. No action was taken against her but journalist Mohammad Zubair who tweeted her comments had to spend 23 days in jail. Muslims who protested against her statements were detained by police.
Similarly no action has been taken against the State Home Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son drove vehicle over farmers during their protest and killed 4 of them and one journalist in Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh. Although his son is in jail, cases were filed against hundreds of farmers, mostly Sikhs, during the 13 months movement.
It is a contradiction that BJP wants a strong India but doesn’t realize that a strong military or security apparatus doesn’t make a country strong if it is internally weak. BJP’s divisive politics has created internal tensions never seen on a scale before.
During partition of the country it was mostly Punjab, Bengal and parts of North India which were affected. In 1947 the country was physically divided, now it is mentally divided. Any kind of division is sure to result in violence provoked by hate. And we’ve seen plenty of it in India during the recent years.
Gandhi chose to remain far away from the midnight ceremony on 14 August 1947 in Bengal trying to douse communal fires
Any society can be strong only if there is internal cohesion, where people live in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi laid down his life for Hindu-Muslim unity. For him this cause was so important that while the country was becoming independent he chose to remain far away, from the midnight ceremony on 14 August, 1947 in Bengal trying to douse communal fires.
It is primarily because of Gandhi’s strong insistence on communal harmony that India became a secular country unlike Pakistan which chose to be an Islamic state. Bangladesh too became a Islamic country when it separated from Pakistan.
It is the equal respect for all religions which has guided India’s polity before the arrival of BJP and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh on national scene. The communal forces were marginalized in the country for a good period of its independent history. It was the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement which provided them a lease of life.
Even though a significant number of people have become RSS-BJP supporters, a large majority still believes and lives in communal harmony. An ordinary person who is concerned about his family and livelihood doesn’t like politics of hatred or violence. She prefers a life of peace, harmony and stability.
Mahatma Gandhi spread the message of love among the people. It is only trust and love which create a sense of security among the people in their relationships. India may have digressed from this path of Gandhi but is sure to return to it as this is the only alternative if we are to survive as a civilised society. In this sense Gandhi’s messages are eternal.
*Magsaysay award winning social activist and academic; general secretary, Socialist Party (India)



'Draconian' Kerala health law follows WHO diktat: Govt readies to take harsh measures

By Dr Maya Valecha*  The Governor of Kerala has signed the Kerala Public Health Bill, which essentially reverses the people’s campaign in healthcare services in Kerala for decentralisation. The campaign had led to relinquishing of state powers in 1996, resulting in improvement of health parameters in Kerala. Instead, now, enforcement of law through the exercise of power, fines, etc., and the implementation of protocol during the pandemic, are considered of prime importance.

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Bihar rural women entrepreneurs witness 50% surge in awareness about renewal energy

By Mignonne Dsouza*  An endline survey conducted under the Bolega Bihar initiative revealed a significant increase in awareness of renewable energy among women, rising from 25% to 76% in Nalanda and Gaya. Renu Kumari, a 34-year-old entrepreneur from Nalanda, Bihar, operates a village eatery that serves as the primary source of income for her family, including her husband and five children. However, a significant portion of her profits was being directed toward covering monthly electricity expenses that usually reach Rs 2,000. 

Work with Rajasthan's camel herders: German scientist wins World Cookbook Award 2023

By Rosamma Thomas*  Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are the only awards for international food culture. This year, German scientist  Ilse Kohler Rollefson , founder of Camel Charisma, the first of India’s camel dairies, in Pali district of Rajasthan, won the award for her work with camel herders in Rajasthan, and for preparing for the UN International Year of Camelids, 2024. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why is electricity tariff going up in India? Who is the beneficiary? A random reflection

By Thomas Franco*  Union Ministry of Power has used its power under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to force States to import coal which has led to an increase in the cost of electricity production and every consumer is paying a higher tariff. In India, almost everybody from farmers to MSMEs are consumers of electricity.

'Pro-corporate agenda': Odisha crackdown on tribal slum dwellers fighting for land rights

By Our Representative  The civil rights network Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), even as condemning what it calls “brutal repression” on the Adivasi slum dwellers of Salia Sahi in Bhubaneshwar by the Odisha police, has said that the crackdown was against the tribals struggling for land rights in order to “stop the attempts at land-grab by the government.”

Deplorable, influential sections 'still believe' burning coal is essential indefinitely

By Shankar Sharma*  Some of the recent developments in the power sector, as some  recent news items show, should be of massive relevance/ interest to our policy makers in India. Assuming that our authorities are officially mandated/ committed to maintain a holistic approach to the overall welfare of all sections of our society, including the flora, fauna and general environment, these developments/ experiences from different parts of the globe should be clear pointers to the sustainable energy pathways for our people.

Hazrat Aisha’s age was 16, not 6: 'Weak' Hadith responsible for controversy

Sacred chamber where Prophet and Aisha used to live By Dr Mike Ghouse* Muslims must take the responsibility to end the age-old controversy about Hazrat Aisha’s age at the time of her marriage to the Prophet (pbuh) – it was 16, not 6 (minimum was 16, Max 23 per different calculations). The Hadiths published were in good faith, but no one ever checked their authenticity, and they kept passing on from scholar to scholar and book to book.  Thanks to 9/11, Muslims have started questioning and correcting the Hadiths, Seerah, and mistranslations of the Quran. Now, the Ulema have to issue an opinion, also known as Fatwa, to end it and remove those Hadith entries. Mustafa Akyol, a scholar of Islam, implores Muslims to stop deifying “the received traditions” and critically study their religious past, shedding rigid legalism and close-mindedness. Someone else used the phrase “copycat Muslims” to identify scholars who copied what was given to them and passed it on without researching or questioni