Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Yes, I am an Indian, I so proudly am!! This thought was hitting my head throughout the session of Day 35, taken by Dr. Chaiwat Satha Anand on July 15th, 2014. Reference to one Indian man, a very very simple one, as the propagator of the idea of non-violence by the whole world really makes me proud that our country’s constitution constitutes the principles of this Man. No doubt, today Gandhi’s life is subject to different kind of character assassinations even back home, I am no one to comment on that as I am never an expert in his life studies. The only time I felt very proud of him was this day. As being Indians, from our very childhood, history will invariably have long chapters on Gandhi and his struggle; seldom I realized that we are actually the part of a great world revolution.
I, personally, have not been a great fan of Gandhi and apart from supporting his non-violence tactic, there are hundreds of reasons for not liking Gandhi as well. A person who never gave his wife the due respect and recognition, a person who loved younger girls more than required could never been an ideal for me before Day 35. This morning I woke up with news of Dr. Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize winning writer, alleging Gandhi for being “casteist”. However, his contributions towards the Indian struggle for independence can never be undermined due to reasons that involve his personal life, perhaps Kastturba Gandhi’s cry was not that important (!!!???).
But today, my objective in writing this and giving this piece the said headline is something else. I am just asking myself many questions. Today, when India is subject to a number of violent conflicts, if you look at the North Eastern part of India, all of them are struggling for different reasons – from negligence by centre to ethnic recognitions through more and more autonomy. And trust me, none of these conflicts show the slightest tinge of Gandhi’s non-violent ideologies. Apart from Irom Sharmila of Manipur, who is on a hunger strike for the last 500 weeks or even more in demand of the withdrawal of the draconian AFSPA from the North East, nobody else believes in non-violence. Had Sharmila been given a price, the belief in this ideology would have gone stronger, but the centre is not interested! Some glucose injections are enough to deal with her for the centre, as she does not have a sophisticated weapon.
When every morning I get to read a news on ethnic violence, when every morning I have to run to calm a violent mob, to find some screaming faces and weeping mothers and wives in Gandhi’s own country. The question I tend to ask again and again is “How are you Mr. Gandhi?”
Samprity Goswami, India
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2014 Session