ASSASSINATION: It is alleged that Mahatma Gandhi was shot by RSS supporters led by Nathuran Godse during a prayer meeting at Birla House in Delhi. Since then he has become a populist icon for all political parties. However, earlier this year a video went viral of Hindu Mahasabha national secretary Puja Shakun Pandey shooting an effigy of Gandhi (inset left)
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
Ironically, in the year of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the BJP is trying to destroy all the values he stood for, like an united India where there will be no discrimination based on caste community and greed. Instead the BJP is trying to convert India into a one religion — Hindu, one language — Hindi, and one party country like Nazi Germany
October 2nd will mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Ironically, the very organisations allegedly involved in the Mahatma’s assassination now have new avatars and have appropriated him, planning major events all over the country.
The BJP cannot claim that they are embracing the Mahatma because he is a Gujarati like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The Mahatma represents the polar opposite of what Shah and Modi stand for. Gandhi was an apostle of non-violence. In sharp contrast, both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are violent Hindu fundamentalists.
Unfortunately, because Goa was part of the Portuguese colonial empire it did not learn much about Mahatma Gandhi and how he liberated India from British colonial rule, but his legacy of non-violence is well-known. Even after Indian Independence, despite demands from Goans and hardliners in post-Independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru refused to conquer Goa by force. This despite the fact that the Azad Gomantak Dal and its allies forcibly took over Dadra & Nagar Haveli in Gujarat. Goa and Daman had to wait till then Defence Minister Krishna Menon virtually forced Nehru to take over Goa by force.
Never mind that not a shot was fired and it was the most peaceful take-over ever, with Manuel António Vassalo e Silva, the last Governor General, refusing to obey the orders of the dictator António Salazar to destroy Goa. Indeed, when Governor General Silva went back to Portugal he was humiliated, court martialed for failing to follow orders, expelled from the military and sent into exile. His rank and freedom were restored only in 1974, after the fall of the regime.
Unlike in the case of Modi and Shah who pride themselves on their surgical strikes against Pakistan, to the end Nehru swore by non-violence and had hoped that as in the case of Pondicherry, the Portuguese (like the French) would also peacefully leave India.
It is disgraceful that the BJP should seek to appropriate Mahatma Gandhi, who was allegedly killed by Naturam Godse — a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. Indeed, Sardar Patel, the leader the BJP venerates and plans to build a statue for (bigger than the American Statue of Liberty), had banned the RSS for their role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi’s signature hymn “Raghupati Ragav raja Ram, Patitapavan Sita Ram, Allah Iswar tera naam, sabko sanmati dey bhagwan” represents the concept of an India that was inclusive. Unlike the BJP which has been harassing Dalits and even encouraging the lynching of lower castes who deal with skinning of dead cattle, Gandhi had so much respect for the Dalits that he refused to let them work as scavengers. In his ashrams he not only insisted on cleaning his own toilet, but forced his more orthodox wife Kasturba to clean toilets too.
For the BJP to claim that it is a great fan of Gandhi while working to destroy his legacy is an insult to him. The BJP seeks to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mahatma, in a year in which they trying to promote the idea of one country, one religion, one language; a monotheist culture, a Hindu nation which perpetuates the idea of caste to this day. They are doing this openly.
Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr Birla, recently claimed that Brahmins were superior and more intelligent and should be honoured for their services. Union Home Minister Amit Shah openly claims Hindi should be India’s unifying language.
The BJP does not realise that Gandhi, who treated everyone as an equal, was himself a victim of apartheid in South Africa. For those not familiar with the concept of apartheid, white South Africans treated Indians and the black native population as second class citizens. This despite the fact that Mahatma Gandhi was educated in the UK as a lawyer, equal in education and status to any of the whites. Indeed it was in South Africa that the baniya from Rajkot started the movement against social discrimination and demanded that everyone should be treated equally.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF CITIZENS (NRC)
On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi, the Modi government is trying to divide India. The final register of citizens of Assam has just been finalized which will deprive lakhs of Assamese of the right to citizenship.
The campaign against the Assamese population is very selective. The presumption is that anyone who cannot show that he/she (or an ancestor) was listed in electoral rolls or other admissible documents before 1971 (the year in which Bangladesh was liberated), is a refugee. This despite the fact that according to the Constitution any Indian born till 1987 is entitled to full-fledged citizenship of India. Even the SC has colluded with the BJP government in eliminating Muslims from Assam. There are literally lakhs of original residents of Assam who face the threat of eviction if their names are not found in the NRC. To cite an example imagine what would have happened in Goa if tomorrow it was declared that only Goans born before 1961 or their descendants could be entitled to citizenship of Goa.
As it is the anti-migrant feeling which has been encouraged in Assam and Kashmir is creeping into Goa. It is unfortunate that a large part of the minority Catholic community which once represented of 40% of the populations are leaving Goa, reducing the Catholic minority to less than 20%. The only other part of the country which was Catholic majority was the Northeast. After the BJP came to power in 2014 in the Centre most of the Northeast States are being converted into Hindu states. Catholic chief ministers and ministers have been replaced by Hindu ministers and there is large scale conversion to Hinduism. We recall the Caravan writing an investigative article on the kidnapping of Naga children to the Nagpur region so that they could be converted to Hinduism.
J&K UNDER FIRE
As alarming as what is happening in Assam is the lock down in Jammu & Kashmir. For those unfamiliar with the history of J&K, it had been decided that the states would be divided between India and Pakistan in proportion to the percentage of Muslims and Hindus. The other factor was that any state should be contiguous (continuous). The British themselves broke the rule by creating two Pakistans namely East and West Pakistan. The states of Punjab and Bengal were split, with the majority of the Muslim population of Punjab migrating to West Pakistan. Due to a revolt and mass slaughter of Hindus and Bengalis in East Pakistan, India intervened with its army and threw Pakistan out, creating the state of Bangladesh.
It must be recall that the origin of J&K becoming part of India itself was controversial. This is because while Jammu was a Hindu majority state, Kashmir and Ladakh were Muslim majority states. King Hari Singh of J&K, who was against Muslims, hurriedly accepted India’s offer to join Hindustan. This led to a revolt against the Hindus in Jammu by the militant Pakistanis. Lakhs cross the border with Muslims crossing to Pakistan and Hindus from Pakistan coming to the Indian side of the border. In the war that followed Pakistan occupied parts of India which are still called Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). When J&K was integrated with India it was decided that the region comprising J&K and Ladakh would have special status even to the extent of having a PM not a CM. This continues until 1965. As part of the Constitutional provisions it was also decided that no outsider could purchase land or do any business in Kashmir under Article 370 and Article 35 of the Constitution.
In a sudden surgical strike the BJP got President Ram Nath Kovind to pass an ordinance whereby the state of Jammu & Kashmir was split into three parts. Worse still Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were reduced to the status of Union Territories and separated from each other. The undeclared agenda was to confine the Muslims or rather restore all the Muslim land to the Kashmir Hindus. For over a month now all the schools in Kashmir are open but empty — both Muslim and Hindu parents are afraid to send their children to school. All shops are closed down. All top leaders ranging from Farooq Abdullah to Mehbooba Mufti of the various political parties have been kept under house arrest. Jammu & Kashmir has been turned into dictatorship.
By celebrating the birth anniversary of Gandhi without following his ideals, the BJP is insulting the Mahatma. It is insulting the man who believed in ‘united India’. It is insulting the man who went on a hunger strike in Kolkatta when Hindus in Bengal started attacking Muslims. It is insulting the man who, like Christ, forgave Nathuram Godse the man who assassinated him in public during a prayer meeting.
Gandhi did not make any distinction between any religion or caste. Unlike Amit Shah, he is did not make any distinction between any language. This is in the context of Amit Shah latest statement that as Hindi is “the most widely-spoken and understood language” in the country it was the only language that could unite the nation.
Ironically another BJP leader has claimed that the people in the north do not get jobs because they do not have as much brains as people in the south.
As in the case of Assam and J&K, Modi and company’s attitude towards the language issue will split India into two. The south has never accepted Hindi in any form as the official language and there have been agitations against it right to the time of Nehru. Indeed the south and the north are so different that they may be different countries. Forcing the south to bend may result in India breaking apart. We all have to get together to unite India in tolerance instead of having the south head for a BREXIT-type situation as in the UK.
“THIS IS INDIA, NOT HINDIA”
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan today joined a growing chorus of voices against Amit Shah after the Home Minister’s comments on Saturday about Hindi becoming a unifying language. Speaking on National Hindi Day in New Delhi on September 14, Mr Shah said that since Hindi is “the most widely-spoken and understood language” in the country it was the only language that could unite the nation. Amit Shah’s statements on Hindi becoming a unifying language for all Indians has been seen by many as an attempt by the Centre to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states.
In a video posted on his Twitter account, the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief asked the centre not to renege on promises made to states when India was made a republic and warned the Narendra Modi government of a language war that “India or Tamil Nadu doesn’t need or deserve”. He highlighted his point during a press conference, telling reporters, “Tamil is our pride. We won’t give it up”.
Kamal Haasan, who was similarly candid in July after a draft of the National Education Policy required school children in southern states to learn Hindi, also declared that Tamil Nadu would fight harder than it did in the 2017 Jallikattu protests.
“Unity in diversity is a promise we made when India became a republic. Now no Shah, Sultan or Samrat should renege on that promises. Jallikatu was just a protest… the battle for our language will be exponentially bigger. India or Tamil Nadu doesn’t need or deserve such a battle,” Kamal Haasan said in his video.
“Most of the nation happily sings the national anthem happily in Bengali. The reason is the poet who wrote it gave respect to all languages and cultures, and hence it became our anthem. So don’t make an inclusive India into an exclusive one,” the MNM leader said, warning the centre that “all will suffer due to this short-sighted folly”.
“Years ago we said it and we would like to reiterate Tamil is our pride. We won’t give it up. We are ready to accept numerous languages but imposing this (Hindi) is the one we oppose,” he declared.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issued a scathing response to Mr Shah’s statement, describing it as part of the “Sangh Parivar’s signs to launch a new battlefield in the name of language” and saying non-Hindi speaking people would be made second-class citizens.
In Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK and the PMK, both allies of Mr Shah’s BJP, have opposed the Home Minister’s idea. Tamil Nadu has long opposed the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states; the issue is an emotive one in the southern state, which saw anti-Hindi protests from 1937 to 1940 and in 1965.
Tamil Nadu’s Leader of Opposition MK Stalin has criticised Home Minister Amit Shah for his assertion that Hindi is “the one language marking (India’s) identity globally”, declaring “this is India, not Hindia”. The DMK leader warned the Centre of another “language war” unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a clarification. “The Home Minister’s views threatening India’s integrity are painful and condemnable. The DMK will not hesitate to unite states which stand to lose rights due to Hindi dominance,” MK Stalin said.
This is just the latest in recent ‘challenges’ from the Centre, seen by critics as an attempt to continually test the people in the southern States. Controversy erupted in June after a draft version of the National Education Policy 2019 required school-going children in southern states to compulsorily learn Hindi. The DMK and Tamil Nadu’s other political parties protested.
The ruling AIADMK an ally of the BJP too said it would stick to the two language formula. The Centre quickly made a U turn and made study of Hindi optional.
Tamil Nadu has long opposed the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states; the issue is an emotive one in the southern state, which saw anti-Hindi protests from 1937 to 1940 and in 1965.
The state received support from former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who said no language should be imposed over another for any reason. Mr Kumaraswamy took to Twitter this time as well, asking if Kannada Language Day (which falls on November 1) would ever be celebrated by Hindi-speaking states.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress MP from Kerala Shashi Tharoor also issued warnings against the forced imposition of Hindi.
“Most of us in the South learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam or Tamil,” Mr Tharoor was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Faced with mounting criticism, the Centre revised the National Education Policy draft, removing the reference to Hindi.
“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages…,” the revised draft said.
The old version had said Hindi and English would continue to be among the three languages students would study in schools, be it in Hindi or non-Hindi speaking states.
Many also slammed the Centre on social media calling the Home Minister’s views deliberate mischief to divert attention from the huge flak the centre is drawing over issues of economic slowdown and job losses.