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Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

BHARATH YATHRA MUSINGS was written at Delhi on 20-01-2001 and no newspapers dared to publish it.  I am sharing this now with the Gandhi Topia members.

Atalji’s Kumarakam Musings prompted me to write this piece for what worth it is.  Call it musings or whatever else, this is the expression of an insignificant citizen while the Indian Republic is just to complete its Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

 

What a grant celebration!  At one side the celebration is through flag hoisting, speeches of political and apolitical leadership, garden and cocktail parties, and march past parades of uniformed and regimented citizens exhibiting the samples of accumulated destructive weapons of all kinds.  What a sign of materialistic progress of the republic during the past fifty years!

 

On the other side celebration is through political rhetorics of all kinds polluting the already heavily polluted Indian atmosphere, killings of innocent unarmed citizens and deprivation of all kinds for the hundreds of millions of Indian citizens – be it food or clothing or shelter.  What a malignant republic we are with benign science and malignant technologies aplenty!!

 

I am a 1947-born insignificant Indian citizen hanging around the National Capital Territory of Delhi for the past few months, after completing a Bharath Yathra that took me through the length and breadth of India.  I don’t belong to any political party or group – be it of any caste, class, creed, religion or language.  I commenced my Bharath Yathra at Kanyakumari on October 2, 1999 (Gandhi Jayanthi Day), as a part of my cancer and corruption crusade.  I traveled all alone and without taking any money.  I left it for each moment to lead me to next moment and each place to the next place.  The journey took me criss-cross the country up to Kedarnath.  Finally I would up the journey after reaching Delhi on August 31, 2000.

 

My Bharath Yathra was a travel from one millennium to another millennium, from one corner of the country to the other and from seashore to Himalayan mountaintop.  The experience is unique – something to be personally to be experienced to believe it.

 

Now, I understand as to why the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi did not participate in the celebrations of Indian independence.  While the independent India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the national flag on the ramparts of Red Fort at Delhi, the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was far away in Calcutta spending more of his time in spinning on his spinning wheel.  When someone asked him as to why he did not join the celebrations, his reply was: “I can’t afford to take part in this rejoicing, which is a sorry affair.

 

On August 15, 1947 Mahatma Gandhi gave the following piece of advice to West Bengal Ministers, which was equally applicable to all Ministers of Indian Union and all constituent states:

From today you have to wear the crown of thorns.  Strive ceaselessly to cultivate truth and non-violence.  Be humble.  Be forebearing.  The British rule no doubt put you on your mettle.  But now you will be tested through and through.  Beware of power; power corrupts.  Do not let yourselves be entrapped by its pomp and pageantry.  Remember, you are in office to serve the poor in India’s villages.  May God help you.

 

Indian ministers of all kinds, irrespective of political affiliations, throughout the past five decades least headed to this invaluable noble advice and the outcome is the present state of affairs of Golden Jubilee Celebrating Indian Republic.  Just the word “Gandhi” remained much used and abused at all times and on all accounts.  Perhaps this is the only way left to honour a Mahatma!

 

Abettors of the killer of the greatest Ram Bhakta India has ever seen in recent years, are in the forefront of building a Ram Mandir over the debris of a demolished mosque.  Ram Mandir ramifications ultimately brought to power the present government and intoxicated the nation with Ayodhya Ayahausco.  From ‘service before self’ to ‘self before service’, the nation and its leadership passed through a metamorphosical change.

 

There is hardly any governance in the country.  The most insecure people are at the helm of affairs of the country.  How can the most insecure people in the governance of the country secure for all Indian citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity?  Is there any security worth the name for the hapless Indian citizens?  Is there any freedom for the people of India worth calling it freedom?  I am reminded here of that freedom as expressed in the following lines of Poet Rabindranath Tagore:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

Where knowledge is free,

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,

Where the clear stream of reason has not los its way into the hoary desert of dead habit,

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action,

Into that heaven of freedom, my father, may my country awake.

 

Even after five decades of achieving independence from the British colonial rules and while celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Indian Republic, the country and its people are yet to awake to that heaven of freedom.  This will continue to remain a dream for the hapless millions of Indian citizens for many more years to come.

 

In the very land, where sages after sages including Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave walked alone bare-chest accompanied by unarmed and ill-clad volunteers, the elected representatives of India as well as political and apolitical leadership of all kinds travel in bullet proof cars wearing bullet proof clothes accompanied by heavily armed commandos.  Leaders have made themselves inaccessible even to those very people whom they are deemed to lead.

 

While walking through Kasturba Gandhi Marg of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, I was amused to see a large board outside a bungalow, written in white surface with large red colour English letters.  The signboard reads:

Warning

Robbers

Will be shot

Where are we upto?  Indian law does not provide me the right to take away my life on my own even when I am deprived of good air, potable drinking water, food, clothing, and shelter.  At the same time a few can afford to take law into their hands and kill anyone.  The state too kills the people.  What a mockery of governance and democracy?

 

As per the pre-amble of Indian constitution:

We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute Inida into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:

Justice, social, economic and political,

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship,

Equality of status of opportunity, and to promote among them all

Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.”

 

How far India succeeded in securing justice, liberty, equality and fraternity?  The primary duty of any ruler is to grant justice.  That is not at all happening in the country.  A law student is taught that justice delayed is justice denied.  That is literally what is happening.  Judiciary to Legislature to Executive to Media all are proud of their prestige and fame and their concern to guard it, except to the hundreds of millions of Indian citizens who constitute India and bear the burden of the weight of people holding these four estates of governance.  How long they can bear the weight?  One day they will just leave their shoulders and the Humpty Dumpty Governance will have a great fall.  Absolutism is a sign of destability.

 

As I used to wonder, the present generation may wonder how India, such a large country, with a population only second to China in the world, was subjugated by Muslim invaders – a few thousands who came on horse back or of Westerns who came in ships in search of commerce.  Now I understand that this was due to the complete alienation of the population from the rulers.  The King was held to rule by divine right under the advice of a Brahmin Priest.  There was no appeal against any injustice.  If the king was bad, it was the people’s fate.  The Sultans too followed the same ideal.  Therefore, the common man had no vested interest in defending “Bharat” against invaders.  Often the invaders proved to be better than native rulers, and the people preferred them.  Patriotism was only in the domain of Kshatriyas and Brahmins.  The people who had nothing to lose but their chains cared little for the concept of India, if at all they had such a concept.  If those in government of the country as well as political and apolitical leadership of today understand this and amend their conduct, the worst will not happen as in the past.

 

Mahatma Gandhi understood it much better.  That is why even in the midst of his non-violent struggle against the mighty colonial powers he was totally engaged in village reconstruction work.  Once known as Segaon village, through his village re-construction work Mahatma Gandhi converted it into a ‘Village of Service’ and then appropriately named it “Sewagram”.  He saw in villages the foundation of India and therefore he wanted to give the development of villages the top most priority.  That did not happen after independence and those in governance thought that they could build the foundation after erecting the multi-story structure with all walls and roofs.

 

On this occasion I cannot help but express my feelings this way.  If I don’t express myself I can get depression and damage my health.  Everyone would agree that taking care of one’s health is better and easier than going after miracle cures after getting sick.

 

Paradoxically we have a government of a few people, for a few people and by a few people.  What actually the country needed is government of the people, for the people and by the people with a long-term object and not short-term objects just to be populist in nature.  If those in governance remembererd the following talisman given by Mahatma, India would be much different than what it is today:

I will give you a talisman.  Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test.  Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the stop you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.  Will he gain anything by it?  Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny?  In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?  Then you will find your doubt and your self milting away.

 

Once elected to power, elected representatives go blind and memory less to see or recall the face of the poorest and weakest.  Even if Mahatma Gandhi’s given talisman is forgotten, everybody remember Gandhi for use and abuse for much narrow personal and political gains.  Adored the Father of the Nation, he is dishonoured and disrespected.  In the very land of mahatma Gandhi – the man of the past millennium and the greatest apostle of peace and non-violence, the country exploded nuclear bombs twice – first time in 1974 and second time in 1998.

 

As N. Kunju wrote in his newly released book “Nuclear Myths”:  “Basing national policies on myths may lead to disaster.  We have seen how Pakistan, created on the myth of religion being the basis of nationality, losing its soul in 1971 with the separation of Bangladesh.  Similarly the Indian subcontinent could court catastrophe if it based its defence on myths propagated by protagonists of nuclear weapons.”  This one time soldier turned writer’s new book “Nuclear Myths” give people like me enough food for thought.  Now both India and Pakistan are nuclear and pride itself as Nuclear Weapon States.  All these pride at what cost?  N. Kunju rightly writes: “When a nuclear bomb will hit Delhi, it will be the jawans who will have to mourn the death of their dear and near ones.  And there will be funerals and last trites for the dead when the city itself will turn into a smoldering crematorium.”  One has to heed his plea and the people, especially the young, should come out to oppose nuclear weapons.  The world belongs to the young and the future generations.  The old, who are the temporary trustees on their behalf, have no right to destsroy the world.  Better destroy the bomb.

 

In the year 1968 the great Philosopher and Former President of India Dr.S.Radhakrishnan wrote as follows in Gandhi Centenary Commemmoration Volume “Mahatma Gandhi – 100 Years”:

We are at the crossroads of history.  Man’s greatest enemy is not disease or famine or demographic explosion, but nuclear weapons which in war may completely destsroy civilization and in peace inflict grievous and lasting damage on the human race.

 

Even this insignificant cannot help but take courage to warn those in governance of India – a land of one-hundred crores of people that they should not take for granted the silence of the hapless people.  This silence is their message and strength.  Within the vast silent human ocean, an unprecedented storm is in the making and that storm created huge waves will one day lash with all force at the islands of governance of this republic and many islands of governance are to meet with watery graves.  Of course a few backwaters may also be created.  Will Atalji and Ramachandran live upto witness that and also to go there on vacation and write the musings?

 

In the end those in the governance and those in government may note the following words of Mahatma Gandhi:

The Devil succeeds only by receiving help from his fellows  He always takes advantage of the weakest spots in our natures in order to gain mastery over us.  Even so does the Government retain control over us through our weaknesses or vices?  And if we could render ourselves proof against its machinations, we must remove our weaknesses.  It is for this reason that I have called non-cooperation a process of self-purification.  As soon as that process is completed, the government must fall to pieces for want of the necessary environment, just as mosquitoes cease to haunt a place whose cesspools are filled up and dried.

 

A common man’s commonsense can understand Mahatma Gandhi.  Self-styled constitutional pundit’s supersense and those intoxicated by Ayodhya Ayahausco cannot understand Mahatma Gandhi.  What a dead-end of Golden Jubilee Celebrating Indian Republic!

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