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It is a measure of the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru that the BJP ideologues and their followers can’t stop referring to them, no matter how idiotically and venally they do so. To blame Nehru for everything – as is the wont if these demagogues – is to imbue him with the absolute power that indeed he never sought but that these new-fangled leaders in fact seek. To re-enact the murder of Gandhi as part of celebratory rituals is to elevate murder to a matter of cultural policy, a fact attested to by the grisly murders of young Muslims who refuse to chant “Jai Shri Ram.”

We’ve degraded ourselves in the last 50 years. The fundamental essence of the Freedom Movement has been lost as has the attempt the greatest Indians of the 20th century to create a grand experiment of humanity in a country that had been ravaged by 190 years of colonial rule and was riven by conflict. That these great Indians could seal the fissures, even for a short-while, and create a vibrant, secular democracy- even if in name- is testament to a level of morality and genius that the new rulers of India could never attain. That these great Indians, endured- in fact courted-jail instead of complying with immoral British laws has not only been forgotten, but in fact their sacrifices have been mocked by the constant invocation of precisely these British laws by the BJP mafia to jail, torture, and murder journalists, activists, and dissenters.

But we live in Orwellian times.

Just as dieters are obsessed with food and celibates with sex, so too are the new leaders obsessed with morality. We are obsessed with those qualities we do not possess: Trump speaks often of his own genius and the BJP leaders of their patriotism; in both cases, the real story is their lack thereof.

Patriots, whatever one’s feeling about the term, are made of sterner stuff. Some, like Pandit Nehru, spent 9 years of his life in jail. Mind you, he was born into a blue-blood family and chose to make enormous sacrifices for India’s freedom. Mr. Gandhi courted jail and offered one of the most brilliant perorations in modern Indian history as he refused to accede to unjust laws. He could have, had he wanted, created a totalitarian state- he had that ability to move people- but he understood his own limitations and the importance of an institutional structure that did not elevate the cult of personality. The India these visionaries inherited from the British overlords was one that had been robbed of wealth and reduced to penury, had witnessed man-made disasters and death on an epic scale, and had a citizenry that was rural, poor, and largely illiterate. To be able to dream of a great society in those conditions—that required a grandiosity and optimism of will that has not been duplicated since Nehru’s death.

Were these men perfect? Of course not? Both can be criticized from the perspective of the Left and rightly so. No person is above scrutiny and leaders, if they seek leadership, must be subject to thoroughgoing analysis and criticism; this makes sense only if those who are conducting the critique know facts and understand them in context. This only makes sense if the criticism is bereft of fakery and dogma.

These attacks, no matter how vicious, serve not to destroy these figures– who tread the air above the din of calumny –but instead to dismantle the current society that each of us inhabits and derives sustenance from and to undo the last vestiges of science, rationalism, and humanism extant in India. The BJP brass knows this- they burn effigies of people from the past to terrorize those who exist in the present. They redact history to control the present and the future.

That is to be expected from the powerful for, as we know, power corrupts. What need not be expected is the pathetic acquiescence of thinking people to these assaults. It is we who are clothing the naked emperor.

Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist


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One Comment

  1. abubenadhem says:

    I am astonished to see that the vast nation of India, after liberating itself from the exploitive British Empire now has a government by the BJP, who seem to be internal imperialists with similar vices. Long live Gandhi and Nehru!