Gandhi Jayanti: The Mahatma is still alive

MAHATMA GANDHI had said, “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” This was the difference between the Mahatma and his assassin. But, more than sixty years since his death the Mahatma is still alive. This Gandhi Jayanti (October 2nd ) let us pledge that we will revive the magic of the Mahatma which is present in all of us.
To say that we owe to this man the freedom of our country would not be an understatement. His principles and ideologies stand true irrespective of all religions, castes and regional divides. Gandhigiri, which created storm last year in our country, has travelled to the countries of Netherlands, Belgium and the United States of America. BBC News Online voted Mahatma Gandhi the greatest man of the past 1,000 years in a poll. But since his death, have we done enough to keep up his legacy?
To understand the magnitude of the assassination of Gandhi, let me take you a few years back in history. ‘Gandhi’ (film), directed by Richard Attenborough, won eight Oscar awards in 1982. Bhanu Athaiya was the first Indian to win the Oscar for costume design. But, the scene that captured everyone’s attention was the funeral scene of Mahatma Gandhi. This scene is considered to be the greatest scene in cinematic history with more than four lakh extras being used to shoot the sequence, the most ever by any stretch of imagination in any Hollywood movie. And it wasn’t money that lured the four lakh extras.
The scene was shot on January 30, 1981 – 33 years after the Mahatma’s death – and still there were four lakh people, who turned up to pay their tributes to the great man. And in the scene in which Mahatma dies and says, “Oh God!” in the movie, wherein in real life he is believed to have said, “Hey Ram,” there were riots and protests in India, in response to the last words of Mahatma Gandhi. Historically, if you look at it, it was wrong, indeed. But isn’t he the same man, who prescribed tolerance of all religions? But people in India were up in arms against this scene. Perhaps, that’s why Gandhi was called Mahatma and we are all considered mortals.
Gandhi’s principles of truth and non-violence can never cease to exist. For, they are the principles on which humanity exists. It is astonishing to hear people feel that these principles hold no water in these times. These are perhaps the men, who shudder at the thought of honesty being followed by everyone and believe in the power of money to make people do wrong.
Mahatma Gandhi is best remembered for his struggle against the British. But the only victory that counts is the one over yourself. And thus, he taught us to fight the beast within us first before taking on the world. The Mahatma would not have been the person that he was unless he possessed an indomitable will, a will that made him believe in his thoughts and convert them into actions.
His teachings of civil disobedience and passive resistance have a lot of weight even today. Nothing has really changed. Our enemies then were the oppressive British and now it is the corrupt bureaucracy that we face, the corrupt politicians, who are the only hindrance to development. This is the time when Gandhian principles come to the forefront – when we don’t have to throw the enemy out, but clean up our system from within.
Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy still carries on. Not through the host of politicians, who want to cash in on his image by just hanging a portrait of his in their offices, but through people who dare to walk on his path. Manav Sadhna, a service to all centres in Ahmedabad, works by the principles of truth and non-violence. It makes efforts to uplift the poor and oppressed, promotes health and sanitation and educates the poor masses free of cost.
It also works in the area of education, nutrition, alternatives to child labour and medical aid to women and children living in the slums. And all this it does without expecting anything in return. No, this is not another form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) looking to build up the brand image of a company. But these are people who are selflessly working in the service of others. As the man himself had said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This is what every human works all his life to find… himself.
To him, his religion was love and tolerance, his God were his principles to which he stuck no matter how great the adversity was, and he was a fighter – one who fought with truth and non-violence. He believed violence could get you victory but it would only be momentary. Instead, he believed in conquering the enemy with love. Everytime you think of this great man, you have the image of a thin, frail body carrying a stick with an everlasting smile on his face. The greatest of problems seem to have the simplest of solutions.

Mahatma’s legacy continues. There is a Mahatma in all of us, but in all the worries of the world, he is lost. It is time we paid attention to that inner voice. My favourite quote of the Mahatma is, “There are times when you have to obey a call, which is the highest of all, that is the voice of conscience even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being.” And keeping this in mind, let us pledge that we will be the change that we wish to see in this world.

Six year old’s family devastated in Ahmedabad Blasts

Every time there is a Blast, hundreds of innocents are left dead. Whenever there is an act of terror, it is the common man that faces the brunt. Here’s a story of a six year old in Ahmedabad whose family has been devastated in the blasts tragedy.
At the blast outside the Civil hospital in Ahmedabad, two brothers Yash and Rohan were gravely injured. Yash is a six year old who is too young to understand the terror that has hit his family. On Saturday evening, Yash’s father Dushyant Vyas had planned to teach him how to ride a bicycle. Yash had been bought a bicycle a day before by his father who was a X ray technician at the hospital. Yash now lies in the ward of the civil hospital having multiple injuries on his body. Next to his bed lies his elder brother Rohan who is in a much graver situation then him. Doctors presume that he might not see light at the end of his misery. Every now and then when Yash yelps in pain, the entire hospital wants to question as to what this young boy is doing there. He should have been riding the bicycle as was planned. But the terrorists had other plans. Dushyant vyas’ body has just been brought home from the mortuary. The news of his father’s death has not been told to Yash yet. His mother does not have the strength to convey this to him. Meanwhile in the hospital doctors and medical staff attend to this young boy who is in excruciating pain. Yash has lost his father and his brother is in critical situation. His is one of the several families that have been devastated in the serial blasts that rocked Ahmedabad city. It seems a terrorist group is behind this blast but surely no human can take this responsibility of brutally killing innocent people.
Every time there are blasts in India, it is covered by the major newspapers and media channels. After a few days the news dies away. India has been on the terrorist’s radar for a long time with serial bomb blasts having rocked all the major cities in India. After Iraq and perhaps Afganisthan, India is the most terror prone zone in the world. These blasts are nothing but a cowardly act of terror from a group of insane fundamentalists. The perpetrators of these blasts will have answers to give on judgment day.
To say that India is a soft target would not be over exaggerating. The Indian police have done nothing to catch the criminals who have hands in these blasts. Imagine if a terrorist attach would hit US, it would rather go on war with every nation that had terrorists in order to protect the security of its people. But in India blasts have become a common thing now and the intelligence authorities can do nothing about them.
We need to get over the tragedy that struck Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Try telling this to young Yash, who would not understand why he was on the receiving end of this dastardly act. His hopes of learning how to ride a bicycle were devastated and he cannot even mourn his fathers death for he is not aware of it. Every time there is a blast, we move on with our day to day lives after a few days keeping the horrifying sequence of events behind us. But the police and the intelligence authorities should not forget and forgive, catch the perpetrators and deal with them in the harshest manner possible.

India is a Soft Terror Target

INDIA HAS once again been attacked. In the less than 24 hours, terrorists have struck again. Unfortunately, it is not new to our nation. In the last four years, we have experienced over a dozen attacks in the various parts of the country, which includes, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Malegaon, Mumbai, Lucknow, Varanasi, Delhi and Hyderabad. The ease with which these terror attacks are being carried out, raises a question: Whether terror-strikes have become as common as theft?

Terrorism in India has taken the form of an iceberg and till date we haven’t been able to unearth more than the tip of this iceberg. As the Center for Defense Information, America says, “India has been the victim of more terrorist attacks, both domestic and international, on its territory than any other country.”

The more disturbing thing is the soft approach of our government. We have a government that is bent on giving a ’safe haven’ to the terrorists. The government has completely failed to face and anticipate that these ’regular’ terror attacks are results a lack of coordination between the intelligence, and the central and state government. The government just uses the agenda of religion as a weapon and tolerance as a breeding ground for terror activities. We, as responsible citizens must question this attitude of government. India has been a top target for militants, and yet the central and the state government doesn’t wake up for some serious action regarding counter attack. It is behaving timidly and relentlessly with such an abysmal, shameless and stoic attitude.

Before naming anyone, government needs to set its responsibilities right. If there is lack of coordination among the state and the central agencies then the government needs to address that first. Every time terror attacks take place, the state agencies blame the Centre and in turn, the Centre washes its hands saying that the state government was warned beforehand but no heed was paid to the warning.

I don’t understand what the ministers are doing at the central level? They need to be more accountable. There is more to their job than just condemning the blasts and waiting for the investigation report. And one must not play politics when it comes to the issue of national security.

Have you ever heard of any breakthrough in these terror investigations? I haven’t heard any (apart from the Parliament attack, but we haven’t been able to hang the guilty yet) instance, where we have been able to nail the mastermind behind the attack. The investigations are going on at all places mentioned before and might continue to go on and on with no results.

We don’t have the spine to take action against these terrorists because of the politics involved. Senior intelligence officials like Ajay Sinha, Raman, TV Rajeswar have pointed out that over 1.5 crores Bangladeshis are overstaying in India. What have we done till date to look into this serious matter? What is even more surprising is that our home minister is not bothered about how these Bangladeshis could come in from the eastern part of the country and settle in various parts. Rather, he is more bothered about the human rights of infiltrators.

What a pity that we don’t have any specific laws dedicated to counter-terrorism. Every major country has such laws but we go the other way round. The government dismissed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) that was specially designed to tackle terrorism. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is also sitting on the Apex court’s decision to remove the Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunals (IMDT) Act.

The government have been ineffectual in destroying the sleeping cells and local support for the terrorists. All because it say, “Let us not target any particular community”. Who is asking them to target an entire community? The Muslim community is not a party to terror and only a few people are responsible for it, then why does the government believe that any attempt to nab the terrorists would lead to opposition from the community?

The people who justify these acts should also be surceased. In India, we have list of such people, who try bizzare logic in defence of terrorists in cases such as the Babri Mosque case, Gujarat Riots or poverty. Fouad Ajami, arguably one of the most politically influential Arab-American intellectuals of this generation says, “There is another issue that has been brought to the fore by commentaries on the UK bombings: The role of apologists, fellow travellers and grievance peddlers, who exhort us to ’understand basic issues’ and attend to ’root causes’, instead of focussing on the challenge of terrorism.

Serial Blasts Rock Ahmedabad

At least�29 people were killed and over 100�were injured as 16 serial bomb blasts rocked Ahmedabad on Saturday evening. Cycles were probably used to plant the bombs while some were placed on buses, G K Parmar, joint commissioner of Ahmedbad police, told�

Parmar said that�the police are on the lookout for more live bombs. The explosions occurred at Maninagar, Isanpur, Narol circle, Bapunagar, Hatkeshwar and Sarangpur bridge, Sarkej and Odhav and created a wave of panic.

Crowded areas including market places were hit in the synchronised ‘low-intensity’ explosions in a space of 60 to 70 minutes after the first blast hit Maninagar at 6.45 pm. The bombs placed in tiffin boxes were strapped on to bicycles. Some of the blast sites were in sensitive areas in the old city but the situation was peaceful as the night wore on.

There were three blasts in Maninagar–the constituency of Chief Minister Narendra Modi–and two in Sarkhej targeting a state transport CNG bus and near the old Sangam theatre.

“As per the latest information, 29 persons were killed,” Modi told reporters late on Saturday night.

Significantly, two blasts occurred in the premises of Civil and LG hospitals where several victims of the explosions in other areas were being rushed exacerbating the already tense situation. A nationwide alert has been sounded.

A shocked Modi said the Ahmedabad blasts was a ‘war against India’ and a handiwork of terror groups. Declaring there should be one voice against terrorism, Modi also said there is a ‘mastermind group and a mastermind country’ behind the blasts. The people behind the attack will be ‘hounded out’, said Modi, who also spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The blasts were of low intensity and similar to those which hit Bangalore,” Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters in Kanpur.

A common feature seen at the blast sites was use of blue ballbearings in the explosions.

The civic authorities have stopped plying of all the city transport buses.

Gujarat has been put on high alert following the blast. Security has been beefed up across the state, particularly in Gandhinagar, and special police teams were deployed at vulnerable places, said Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah.

He said the government would take all measures to maintain law and order.�

Sources said that minutes before the blasts, the Intelligence Bureau received a mail from the Indian Mujahideen, which stated, “Stop us if you can.”

A couple of bombs were reported to have been placed in tiffin boxes in a modus operandi similar to the explosions outside a Lucknow court last year.

A high level meeting of state director general of police and home secretaries will be convened shortly, said Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta.

The Ahmedabad serial blasts come a day after two people were killed in�nine serial blasts that shook Bengaluru.

Bapunagar, Isranpur and Raipur, where the blasts have taken place, are considered to be� communally sensitive areas.

President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed for calm.

�Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has convened a high-level meeting to review the security situation in the country.

“I do not wish to say anything other than this that a meeting will be held tomorrow at 11 am to review the security situation in the country,” Patil told reporters.

He added, “Anti-national elements have been trying to create panic among the people of our country. Today’s blasts in Ahmedabad seem to be part of the same strategy.”

Source: Rediff