Nathuram Godse: A Fanatic or a Nationalist?

Today is January 30. It was on this day in the year 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse at 5:17pm when Gandhiji was leaving for evening prayers. To commemorate the death of ‘Father of Nation,’ this day is observed as martyr’s day to remember all the martyrs who died during the freedom struggle and after the independence. A two-minute silence in memory of the martyrs is observed throughout the country at 11am.

For the last few days I was just reading few things on Nathuram Godse. I wanted to know what he thought of Gandhi as a person and what motivated him to kill such a great person?

Gandhiji played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle but his methods and few decisions have been criticised umpteen times. The greatness of his personality lies in the fact that even after 62 years of the independence we can openly criticize him, like him or dislike him. I am not an ardent follower of Gandhiji but respect him for motivating the people of India to join the freedom struggle. If someone will ask me to choose between Netaji and Gandhi, I will choose Netaji.

I read few accounts of Nathuram Godse during his trial and tried to read into his mind. Today, when country is facing troubles from other side of the border, it becomes more fascinating to analyse whether Godse was a Hindu fanatic or out and out nationalist? I am quoting few excerpts (source rediff) from his long statement read out by Godse himself, on November 8, 1948. during his trial. This is what he said:

“The background to the event of 30th January, 1948, was exclusively political. The fact that Gandhiji used to recite during prayers verses from the Gita, the Quran and the Bible never provoked any ill-will in me towards him. In this vast area live people of various faiths and I hold that these creeds should have full and equal freedom for following their beliefs.

“In my writings and speeches I have always advocated that religious and communal considerations should be entirely eschewed in public affairs of the country… I have throughout stood for a secular State with joint electorates.

“I am prepared to concede that Gandhiji did undergo sufferings for the sake of the nation… I shall bow in respect to the service done by Gandhiji to the country and to Gandhiji himself for the said service, and before I fired the shots I actually wished him and bowed to him in reverence

“Since the year 1920, after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhiji’s influence in the Congress became supreme. His activities for public awakening were phenomenal… and were reinforced by the slogans of truth and non-violence. To imagine that the bulk of mankind is or can ever become capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life… is a mere dream. It was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that first checked and eventually destroyed Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely correct tactic for Shivaji to kill Afzal Khan as the latter would otherwise have surely killed him. In condemning Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Gobind as misguided patriots, Gandhiji has merely exposed his self-conceit.

“During more than thirty years of the undisputed leadership of the Mahatma there were more desecration of temples, more forcible and fraudulent conversions, more outrages on women and finally the loss of one third of the country.

“Gandhiji was, paradoxically, a violent pacifist… He had often acted contrary to his professed principles and if it was for appeasing the Muslim, he hardly had any scruple in doing so. By the Act of 1919 separate electorates were enlarged and communal representation was continued not only in the legislative and local bodies but extended even within the Cabinet… Government patronage to Muslims in the name of Minority protection penetrated throughout the body politic of the Indian State and the Mahatma’s slogans were no match against this wholesale corruption of the Muslim mind. The position began to deteriorate and by 1926 it became patent to all that Government had won all along the line but Gandhiji… went on conceding one undemocratic demand after another to the Muslim League in the vain hope of enlisting its support in the national struggle.

“The communal principle became deeply embedded in the Reforms of 1935. Mr Jinnah took the fullest advantage of every situation. During the war, 1939-44, Mr Jinnah… promised to support the war as soon as the Muslims’ rights were conceded; in April 1940, within six months of the War, Mr Jinnah came out with the demand for Pakistan on the basis of the two-nation theory.

“The ’Quit India’ campaign of 1942 had completely failed. Britishers had triumphed and the Congress policy can be quite correctly described as ’Peace at any price’… The Congress compromised with the British who placed it in office and in return the Congress surrendered to the violence of Jinnah, carved out a third of India to him an explicitly racial and theological State, and destroyed two million human beings in the process.

“Gandhiji is being referred to as the Father of the Nation — an epithet of high reverence. But if so, he has failed in his paternal duty… Had Gandhiji really maintained his opposition to the creation of Pakistan, the Muslim League could have had no strength to claim it and the Britishers also could not have created it in spite of all their utmost efforts… The reason was… the people of this country were… vehement in their opposition to Pakistan. But Gandhiji played false with the people. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan.

“…after handing over crores of Hindus to… Pakistan, Gandhiji and his followers have been advising them not to leave Pakistan but continue to stay on. Everyday that dawned brought forth news about thousands of Hindus being massacred… Gandhiji did not even by a single word protest and censure the Pakistani Government…

“About Kashmir, Gandhiji again and again declared that Sheikh Abdullah should be entrusted the charge of the state and that the Maharaja of Kashmir should retire to Benares for no particular reason than that the Muslims formed the bulk of the Kashmiri population. This stands out in contrast with his attitude on Hyderabad where although the bulk of the population is Hindu, Gandhiji never called upon the Nizam to retire to Mecca.

“About this very time he resorted to his fast unto death. Every condition given by him for giving up that fast is in favour of Muslims and against the Hindus. One of the seven conditions was to the effect that all the mosques in Delhi, which were occupied by the refugees, should be vacated… and be made over to the Muslims. Gandhiji got this condition accepted by the Government… Those were the days of bitter or extreme cold and on the day Gandhiji broke his fast, it was also raining.

“Families after families of refugees who had come to Delhi for shelter were driven out and while doing so no provision was made for their shelter and stay.

“The decision to withhold the payment of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan was taken by our government which claims to be the people’s government. But this decision of the people’s Government was reversed to suit the tune of Gandhiji’s fast.

“All his fasts were to coerce Hindus.

“Honourable Pandit Nehruji has himself taken a leading part in the acquiescing to the establishment of Pakistan, a theocratic State. But he should have realised that it will never bring prosperity to the Indian Union with a State founded on fantastically blind religious faith and basis.”

The three judge bench, which was hearing his speech, was silent after Godse finished reading. Justice Khosla, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, wrote after his retirement: “There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs… I have no doubt that had the audience of the day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ’not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority.” (source: rediff)

Now it is upto you to decide, whether Godse was really “guilty or fanatic or nationalist”?

What would have been the situation if there had been no partition is diffult to say. But, one thing is very true that partition has caused many wounds to India in last 62 years. Be it illegal invasion of J&K, or wars in 1965, 1971 then Kargil and now terrorism. Pakistan has become a thorn in flesh for India.

The motive of the partition was to give space to two communities, Hindus and Muslims. But looking after the history of 62 years, I feel that India fares much better than Pakistan or Bangladesh. Pakistan is a failed democracy and is on the path of becoming a terror state. Bangladesh is not doing well either. India is leading the way but is facing great troubles from both these countries.

I also feel that till date the policy of appeasement of minority of Congress is not done away with. But in this process of appeasement and vote bank politics, the divide between Hindus and Muslims is widening with each day. The extremist elements in both the communities are adding fuel to the fire.

The politics of India needs an overhaul. It is mandatory for more and more youth to enter politics and be part of the decision making body because this generation feels and thinks more about the country than about any ideology or community.

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.

Has the Indian Youth forgotten our first war of independence?

A survey carried out in various cities of India has revealed that today’s youths have forgotten its history and have no idea about what happened in the year 1857. For some, it signifies a car’s number plate. While for others, it’s a year when riots took place. There are those for whom dates don’t matter at all, only personalities like Mahatma Gandhi do. Then comes the ones who, in their wide embrace of history, attribute the events of 1857 to Bhagat Singh and Shivaji.Many historians called this First War of Independence as a ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857. For them, it was just a bunch of Indian sepoys (soldiers) who had mutinied. They largely failed to recognise the involvement of a vast section of Indian society that took part in this struggle. Peasants and nobles all were involved.

The Revolt of 1857It may be the First War of Independence, but it is a mutiny the nation seems to be in a hurry to forget. Several political parties and the government talked a lot about the year-long celebrations planned (starting May 10, last year) to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1857 revolt, but in the time of Indian Premiere League (IPL) and other more mundane things, the ‘1857 struggle’ appears to have failed to stir the imagination of the country. The struggle, which is an example of the unity, in which people from various sections of the society participated unitedly.

But our political parties are just not interested in the ‘unity’ aspect of the struggle and all of them individually carried out few events and processions suiting their ideology. The government flagged off Azadi Express, a train showcasing the events of the struggle, ‘freedom movement chair’, event in Meerut last year and some processions in New Delhi. But our political parties used this occasion to direct their guns at the rivals. Sitaram Yechury took his usual dig at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for having stayed away from the freedom struggle, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), obviously, cannot be part of any observations and celebrations of that glorious history of Indian people’s struggle. If that is the case then let me tell you that neither did communist took part in the freedom struggle, nor did the Congress in the current shape.(Congress has been divided so many times that the Congress, which was there during the freedom struggle is not the one that we have today). Neither you nor me participated in the movement, but then can’t we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the struggle?

I strongly feel that we should keep politics aside in the matter of national interest. Why blame only Communist Part of India (Marxists) (CPM), even BJP and Congress are also no saint in this. Uttar Pradesh holds a key place in the First War of Independence, but the chief minister seems to have forgotten the occasion. On May 13, the Mayawati government celebrates the completion of its one year in office. But while the state gears up for a round of pomp and pageantry to celebrate the achievement of the state’s first woman chief minister, Uttar Pradesh has forgotten another woman’s sacrifice – Rani Laxmi Bai. In the entire anniversary year, the state government organised only one rally in Lucknow in May 2007. People in cities like Meerut, Lucknow, Kanpur and Jhansi, which were focal points of the revolt , does not even know about the significance of May 10. A senior culture department official told a leading newspaper in an interview that out of the rupees three crore sanctioned for the 1857 anniversary programmes in 2007-08, only Rs50 lakh had been utilised. There is no prize for guessing where the rest of amount must have been utilised.
India’s First War of Independence carried on as late as 1859, while in some instances before it was finally over. A number of heroes and heroines of the India’s First War of Independence have been immortalised for their fight against the British rule.

But we have forgotten them. There is a common saying, “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

“Shaheedon ki chitaaon par lagenge har baras mele. Watan pe mitne waalon ka yahi baaki nishaan hoga.” Isn’t it true?

If you are interested in reading more about the First War of Independence, refer-

India today. Its been 60 years. Right??

Pride in being an Indian, nostalgia for what it must have been like in those heady days ahead of August 15th 1947. Looking at sepia-tinted images of Rajpath on the day India achieved freedom, one can imagine the frenzied crowds, the sense of utter joy at being a free nation. We take freedom for granted today. We couldn’t have been quite so bindaas 60 years ago. That perhaps is our greatest achievement, creating a sense of uninhibited freedom among millions (spit where you want, vote for whom you wish!).

Few gave this country a chance of survival 60 years ago. The prevailing wisdom was that India would crack apart into dozens of princely states, that the centre would simply not hold. By contrast, it was expected that Pakistan would be a more homogenous nation,united by religion. As it has turned out, Pakistan has become a nation undermined from within by religious fanaticism and an emasculated middle class. Sure, India too has its crisis points in the form of an imperfect democracy battling poverty, farmer suicides and unemployment, but despite the imperfections, it has been astonishingly resilient.

In the remarkable book, India after Gandhi, historian Ramachandra Guha had once tried to unravel the enigma of India.

“Why does India survive?”, he asked in his final chapter.

His answer, a sense of a shared symbols – cricket, cinema, music – a respect for diversity, and above all, a remarkable constitution that guarantees fundamental rights and enshrines the principle of one man one vote. I think this country owes a huge debt to the framers of the constitution. I cannot think of a more progressive document anywhere in the world, one that respected individual rights above all . We must be blessed that in the 1940s a collection of rare public figures came together to frame the constitution. It might be difficult to imagine this in our polarised times, but in the 1940s, Indians had the sagacity to realise that people of differing ideological persuasions needed to be brought together so that every possible talent could be harnessed. Maybe, we need to read our history books once again to understand the true meaning of freedom, of being an independent nation. Today’s young and restless I fear often have little knowledge or interest in history.

  • How many young Andhraites know of the sacrifice of Potti Sriramalu, the man whose fast unto death led to the formation of the modern Andhra Pradesh, and laid the basis for liguistic states?
  • How many young Maharashtrians know of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and the sacrifice of those who fought for their state?
  • Is any young Punjabi interested in reading the biography of Tara Singh?
  • The Forward Bloc may keep the flame of Netaji alive, but do young Bengalis bother to read his life story?

Sadly, we are becoming a country ignorant of our history. We seem more comfortable with the quick fix cinematic idea of Gandhi in Munnabhai, than doing anything to really try and understand the man behind the Mahatma. In the 60th year of Independence, we need to make a pledge: a pledge to try and appreciate our history a little more.Remember that old chestnut:

“Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.”

Rachit Chandra

Who should get Bharat Ratna?

INDIA HAS produced a legacy of brave hearts since times immemorial. Probably there is not enough space to measure their sacrifices. However, we cannot close our eyes to those people who have made our country proud by excelling in their own fields and bringing us international recognition.

Bharat RatnaThere is some controversy or the other associated with the Padma awards, Arjuna awards and even the National film awards every year. This year it is the turn of belittling the Bharat Ratna. Ever since the BJP leader and leader of the Opposition LK Advani wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recommending Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s name for Bharat Ratna, a growing list of names has started doing the rounds. This list includes Mulayam Singh Yadav, Charan Singh, Jyoti Basu, Mohd Rafi, SB Chavan and many others. And it is increasing with each passing day. Campaigning for any award devalues its prestige. By going public with the names for Bharat Ratna, the proposers have caused embarrassment to the nominees as well as the jury. In successive acts of ‘me-too-ism’, politicians have named the senior leaders of their parties or communities.

Ever since it was instituted in 1954, which is 54 years ago, only 40 persons from various fields, mostly of high eminence, but some with doubtful credentials to lay claim to the honour, have been honoured with it. And the most important person, who is missing in this list, is Mahatma Gandhi! By hindsight, it seems befitting, as he obviously stands much above even the Bharat Ratnas. VV Giri, K Kamaraj, MG Ramachandran and Rajiv Gandhi, were the controversial recipients, it was felt at that time, that they were being awarded with political motives rather than for their stellar credentials, though of course all of them did make their contributions to the nation in some way. But the lingering feeling remains whether they did enough to deserve the honour.

The last time the nation’s highest civilian award was announced was in 2001, the year it was given to two non-political personalities, but to a playback queen Lata Mangeshkar and Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan. Given the fierce politicking over Bharat Ratnas, this year may well be the seventh time in a row that the award is not announced. It’s an irony that our political leaders are fighting over an issue that is associated with dignity and self-respect. Indian politicians once again demonstrated how stupid they could be. We common people are the real Bharat Ratnas, for whom there is no difference between a Muslim, Tamil, Brahmin or a Bengali.

Bose: The indefatigable fighter

SCBSubhash Chandra Bose is one of the few heroes of history who left the deepest impression on the minds of the people of India within a short span of his charismatic life. He was born on January 23,1897 at Cuttack in Orissa. His father Janaki Nath Bose was a famous lawyer and his mother Prabhavati Devi was a pious and religious lady. Subhas Chandra Bose was the ninth child among fourteen siblings. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose occupies a unique position in the history of India’s struggle for independence. Though a member of the Congress Bose took a different path in his struggle for Indian independence. Today is his 111th Birth Anniversary. But he remains largely unforgotten today. Subhash was an indefatigable fighter for democracy within Congress. Mahatma Gandhi loved Subhash and Subhash had the highest respect for him. Gandhi called him “dare all leader”. It is said that the sobriquet Netaji was given by Gandhi.

Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have garnered much of the credit for successful culmination of Indian freedom struggle, the contribution of Subash Chandra Bose is no less. He has been denied his rightful place in the annals of Indian history. He began his political career in Calcutta and soon became the leader of the left wing of the Indian National Congress. Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1938–39 but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi. Bose believed that Mahatma Gandhi’s tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India’s independence, and advocated violent resistance. Over a span of 20 years, Bose was incarcerated eleven times by the British, either in India or in Rangoon. During the mid 1930s he was exiled by the British from India to Europe, where he championed India’s cause and aspiration for self-rule before gatherings and conferences. He escaped (1941) and fled to Germany. In 1943 he headed in Singapore a Japanese-sponsored “provisional government of India” and organized an “Indian national army.” Bose revived the Indian National Army (INA) which had initially been formed under Capt Mohan Singh in 1942 immediately after the fall of Singapore had collapsed in December that year. Subhash Chandra Bose raised the flag of Indian independence and established his headquarters on December 30, 1943 at Port Blair. However, defeat of Japan and Germany in the Second World War forced INA to retreat and it could not achieve its objective.

Subhash Chandra BoseToday we must remember the following tribute of Gandhi to Bose: “The greatest and the lasting act of Netaji was that he abolished all distinctions of caste and class. He was Indian first and last. What is more, he fired all under him with the same zeal so that they forgot in his presence all distinctions and acted as one man.”

As the circumstances surrounding the death of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose remains shrouded in mystery, official documents declassified by the government say the revolutionary leader was a victim of an aircrash on August 18, 1945 over Taiwan(Formosa). He was then forty-eight years only. No Indian believed the shocking news.
The nation refuses to believe that their true Idol of Patriotism, Subhash Bose, is dead.

Did Netaji really die at Formosa ? This is a question which has been asked umpteen number of times with no satisfactory answer available. This has also been debated time and again by both Netaji loyalists as well as the media and the people of India at large. Many commissions have been appointed by government over a period of time but nothing concrete has come out of that.It’s amazing how Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose continues to be in news, 63 years after his disputed death. A BBC online poll few years back named Bose the third greatest-ever leader in South Asia after Jinnah and Gandhi.