Friday, October 2, 2009

From Gandhi-giri to Goonda-giri

India is a place of the opposites embracing each other. The richest and the poorest have their own take of the much hyped government budgets, single God’s and multiple God’s are worshipped, parched lands are replaced by water soaked soil in a matter of a few kilometres and loud noise is challenged with a louder silence. Gandhi Jayanthi this year is placed in this context of opposites.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation did inspire a whole nation into freedom with a lesser known tool of ahimsa (non-violence). Today as we celebrate his birth we are caught up still between the confusion of violence and non-violence. Raj Thackery in his latest piece of news making has asked the producers of the Hindi movie “Wake up Sid” to apologise for the usage Bombay instead of Mumbai. Obviously the producers were quick to do the same in fear of the film release being stalled by a bunch of goons. It is amusing that no one asks for an apology from politicians for denying basic rights to the poor and powerless of this country!!!

Mayawati is also not doing the dalit cause any favour by spending public money to install thousands of statues all across Uttar Pradesh. There is a strong argument that these statues are a reminder of the resistance that the poor are putting up against the upper castes. But wouldn’t it be better to bring a better understanding of resistance by assisting people to have food on their plates and change their destiny?

Gandhiji dreamt of a single, united India. Many have pointed out that this was a hollow dream as this single united India would also mean keeping people at the same level they were. The scope for being what one wanted to be was perhaps eluding the ordinary people of this country. But one cannot forget the power of non-cooperation and non-violence. The freedom one gets by not doing and being silent.

But for some reason India today is a reflection of violence rather than non-violence, goonda-giri rather than Gandhi-giri. A rule of violence over and above peace. Pakistan is a constant irritation and Indians mistrust their neighbour and don’t see the country on equal terms. The hurry to inflate the India bubble, which is honestly outrageous, brings us into direct confrontation with China and we are deeply enraged with the so called incursions that China is undertaking in the North east part of India. Kashmir is a continuing cause of concern and violence is unleashed every now and then. A new threat in the form of naxals suggests that there is a growing un ease with the way India is conducting itself. Violence is being met by violence with heavy consequences.

I wonder then whether Gandhi Jayanthi is just another day, a holiday, a time to remember the Mahatma, who is maybe much talked about outside India rather than inside, with the U.S. president mentioning that he would have liked to dine with the Mahatma if given a chance. Is there a chance for peace in India? Are we boiling with a violence inside which makes us fight one another and those outside? Surely Gandhi is not going to answer that. We should!!!

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