30th January 2018. 70 years ago, on this day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The day itself is remembered as Martyr’s Day (one of several) in India. Homage is paid to the Father of the Nation and his beliefs eulogised.
Let’s take a breather and try to understand the concept of nonviolence. As its foremost advocate, this is what Mahatma Gandhi had to say:
Nonviolence affords the fullest protection to one’s self-respect and sense of honour, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed men to defend them. Nonviolence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance in the defence of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.
Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all-children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.
It is a profound error to suppose that, whilst the law is good enough for individuals, it is not for masses of mankind. (Harijan, 5-9-1936, p236)
The world kept Mahatma Gandhi at a very high pedestal; it still does.
Many a great leader followed his path of nonviolence; they still do.
What has changed from then and now? … from being a sincere emotion of respect, perhaps even veneration, the homages have donned the garb of suitable words and politically correct expressions. Why?
Anyone who is anybody flaunts this with an élan that keeps improving with the passing of the years; while the mentality, especially regarding certain issues and aspects of life, have become increasingly regressive. Why?
Cut to the present! You wake up in the morning, switch on the computer to begin work and check on Google News to know how is the world faring. And, you are hit with headlines such as this…
The nation is shocked! And, rightly so… for that is all it can do.
The nation waits for justice to be meted, and in the meanwhile, it remains shocked!
Every 30th January and 2nd October it waxes eloquent about the high tenets of Gandhian philosophy and thought, and when it faces the reality of today, it is shocked!
This is not an isolated incident. Every day a deed is done somewhere that violates the human rights of someone. Nirbhayas are still being brutalised and killed. The incident serves to expose a sick mentality once again.
Were I to begin counting, I would need the sky for paper and sea for ink to list such atrocities!… and, not only against women. I refer to incidents of road rage, honour killing, senseless assassinations… the whole lot! Some get reported, some don’t maybe because they are not considered newsworthy enough!
The months of agitation, threats, even destruction of life and property that preceded the release of Padmaavat speaks volumes… about people who are so very concerned about the honour of a queen who may or may not have existed in the 14th century; who was a Rajput by marriage and not by birth – says Malik Mohammad Jaysi in his epic poem by the same name.
The self-same people do not have anything to say about the violation of this little girl’s right to existence! No vehicles are being torched. No annual functions are being disrupted. No roads are being blocked. No permissions for self-immolation are being requested from the highest office of the nation. No death threats are being issued… perhaps because she has no honour defend in the first place!
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.”
Clearly, we do not believe in it. We turn violent and abusive at the drop of a hat and commit regrettable actions… and, after that, we go in a state of shock!
Would it not be better then to follow his advice – “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence…”?
Let’s put it to rest, then. Let’s stop paying lip service to such lofty ideals. Let’s put ‘an eye for an eye’ to use. If we (me included) cannot take up a stand, or do something, against such senseless crimes, we have no right to sully the name of this Messiah of Nonviolence – whose end was indeed violent to its core! History is a witness to that.