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.

How corrupt are we?

Corruption seems to be an endemic part of India as the latest report of Transparency International rates India as the 85th most corrupt country in the world but did we really need an international report to tell us as to how corrupt we are?
New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark seem to be from a different planet all together as they have been voted as the least corrupt countries all over. The redeeming fact was that our next door neighbor Pakistan is at the 134th position, but seeing our economic progress and the lack of theirs, Pakistan is not really the country that we should be comparing with. Where India and China were at par at the 72nd position last year, India has slipped whereas the Chinese despite hosting the most high profile event of the World- the Beijing Olympics have maintained their position.
The harsh reality is that corruption in India is not limited to the politicians and the government employees. It is woven in the social fabric of our country and is tangible in every section of society. Just look around you and you will see the impact of Corruption. The traffic policeman standing at the signal, the ticket checker at the railway station, the peon in the college premises have all been involved in corruption. But to say that these are the only people who breed corruption would be giving credit where it is not entirely due. For we are the people because of whom corruption thrives in our country.  It isn’t just the public sector where corruption thrives but the entire society. The person who offers the bribe is equally corrupt as the person who accepts is. So is it a lack of the respect for the law that makes us corrupt? Is the law enforcement in our country so weak that people believe they can get away with such activities?
The differentiating factor between India and the other nations of the world was its rich culture and heritage and its spiritual and religious outlook. But inspite of all this corruption has thrived in India. Look every where whether it is the public sector, private sector, the government, the judiciary and even the armed forces, none of them can stand up and say that we are not corrupt. Is there something wrong in our parental and teaching process for not instilling morals in us?
Perhaps this is the cynic view that many NRI’s hold once they have shifted abroad. The reason why they refrain from coming back to the country is corruption. The irrational rules of the system, the inefficient bureaucracy and the corrupt society are what confirm their beliefs. And those are the feelings shared by many of us staying within the country.
India is on the threshold of becoming a superpower in the world. But all these dreams can not be realized if corruption were to continue. One of the actors in Rang De Basanti had said, “No country is born great, it has to be made great”. It applies to every country including ours. Strong efforts need to be taken by all of us in order to curb corruption. The Right to information (RTI) act was a great step in empowering the common man in his fight against the system. Now he has the courage to challenge corruption. But this is not enough. For starters we could have separate to speed up the corruption cases, the media could play a bigger role in tarnishing the image of corrupt people in public and we could have stronger laws to deter corruption. We might have received freedom from the British more than six decades ago but we are yet to receive freedom from the perils of corruption. Corruption is like a termite which if not stopped now could eat up our entire society. But as Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “Be the change you want to see in the World” – the efforts will have to begin from our side.

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.