It is an embarrassment to most Indians except the radical Hindus among us, that they are making the killer of Mahatma Gandhi a hero, shame on them. It's like erecting statues in the state capitals of Lee Harvey Oswald, or celebrating Lincoln's Killer.
Mike Ghouse A statue for Nathuram Godseby Salil Tripathi A Godse with a gun near a Gandhi statue will remind us that regardless of the power of good, there will always be evil within every society.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The local authorities in Meerut have sealed the spot in that town where activists of the Hindu Mahasabha want to erect a statue commemorating Nathuram Godse. Lacking any sense of irony, the Hindu Mahasabha wants 30 January to be called shourya divas, or the day of courage.
The courage being what Godse showed when he murdered Mohandas Gandhi that day in 1948. The activists have chosen to act now, in 2015, when a government, which shares much of the activists’ ideology, is in power at the centre. Other statues are planned in Delhi, Ambala (where Godse was executed), and, according to reports, 14 other places in India.
The Madras high court dismissed a public interest petition by a Gandhian who wanted to put a stop to the charade because it hurt his—and others’—feelings.
Anticipating trouble on Friday, officials have invoked a colonial-era law, which Gandhi and satyagrahis used to defy during the freedom struggle, to stop the plans of the assassin’s worshippers. Politicians of various hues will likely wrap themselves in Gandhian homespun clothes, and if passions run high, things may turn violent. But Gandhi doesn’t need lumpen elements to defend his ideas.
The last time Godse and Hindu Mahasabha leaders were cheered was, inevitably, when the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power.
Think of the unveiling of a portrait commemorating Vinayak Savarkar in Parliament in 2003, or the staging of the Marathi play, Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy (This is Nathuram Godse speaking, based on Godse’s court statement) during the Vajpayee years. (It was banned when first staged in 1997, but allowed in 2001).
Godse’s fans have created a subterranean cult that portrays him as a misunderstood patriot. The state has overreacted by banning the statement and the play based on it, giving such myths wider currency. Godse’s statement is accessible on the Internet. In that speech, Godse coldly laid out his worldview, explaining coldly why he killed Gandhi. It showed little remorse and it was written with posterity in mind. He wanted to be remembered as a martyr for the Hindu cause.
The young Indian Republic panicked and Godse’s speech acquired a samizdat status, a netherworld aura. Its suppression made it seem as though it was worthy, and that helped keep alive the deluded idea that Godse was a patriot.
I remember during my time at college at least two students who thought so. One looked up to Godse (but then he also called Hitler a great, misunderstood man), and the other’s home had a portrait of Godse with a sandalwood garland around it.
So here’s a thought for today: let there be a Godse statue. Not one, but many. Let Godse’s statues be placed near the pedestal wherever Gandhi statues stand—the inspiring Dandi March statue where Sardar Patel Road meets Mother Teresa Crescent behind the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi, the impressive statue near Mantralaya in Mumbai, the meditative statue at the Juhu beach, and the many other statues and busts that adorn India’s buildings and pedestals, lending dignity to India’s public squares and places.
But here’s the caveat—each statue should show Godse with a gun in his hand. Let that gun be pointed towards Gandhi. Let it continue to remind India, day after day, not only about the bravery of the warrior without a weapon, and the cowardice of the assassin with a gun.
Gandhi gave his life trying to get humanity to shun violence.
In 1922, he suspended the civil disobedience movement when freedom fighters burned down a police station in Chauri Chaura, killing several policemen.
Then again in 1946, when Hindu-Muslim violence erupted in Bengal after the Muslim League had called for a Direct Action Day, Gandhi went to the storm’s epicentre, Noakhali, and walked barefoot between November 1946 and March 1947, covering 47 villages, never staying at a place for more than one or two nights, and calmed the region. Gandhi was living out the words of Rabindranath Tagore: Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla chalo re, inspiring generations: “to walk alone, even if nobody listens to your call.”
Across India and throughout the world, the statues of that frail man walking with his stick, continue to stir today.
Let us then remember the fanatic, too, who could speak only with bullets to a weaponless old man whose courage lay in non-violence.
Even George Orwell, sceptical of saints and the self-righteous, was moved to write when Gandhi died: “Regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind.”
A Godse with a gun near a Gandhi statue will remind us that regardless of the power of good, there will always be evil within every society. There is no single path to overcome that, but the one that Gandhi took is a good one to walk on, and you won’t be alone.
A tribute to Gandhi | www.TheGhousediary.com | www.InterfaithSpeaker.com
Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead 68 years ago on this day, January 31, 1948.
Mahatma Gandhi is one of my nine favorite personalities. I call them my mentors, meaning I think about them regularly and that they are; Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Pope Frances, and President Barack Obama. Of course, my father and mother top the list, I am who I am today because of them opening the windows of knowledge to me.
These are the men and women I have come to adore; their passion was to create cohesive societies where everyone can live without fear of the other.
By the time I croak my list may grow to be 10, as there is one more individual I am studying and he may become the 10th favorite Pluralists, i.e., those who respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us.
Every year, for the last 25 years, I have been writing a note about him on his death and birth anniversaries, this is my way of paying tribute and expressing the gratitude to a man who gave so much to India and the world.
By the way, I have seen Gandhi in my dream twice, way back in early 70’s and in the early 2000 – both the times he pats on my back and says, Son you have a lot of work to do, and that has remained my inspiration to do the work I do.
Why did he wear the loin cloth and not the suits? Indeed, he was a Law graduate of University College of London, a successful Lawyer in South Africa and he wore the three piece suits like all the Englishmen did during the period.
Do you remember one of his thousands of quotes – “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” What does it mean? One of the major social reforms he brought to India was ‘acceptability’ of the ‘untouchables’, it is a shameful part of history of civilizations where humans were dehumanized, including here in the United States. He wanted the downtrodden and the poor masses to relate with him and he wanted to be one of them and not the elites who look down upon them. Prophet Muhammad did similar thing – he gave Bilal, the slave whom he freed, the highest spiritual status among his followers, it was a jolt to the society, but it knocked their prejudices down. My father did the same, which I have written separately, you see the same trend with Jesus, Mother Teresa, Pope Frances and others – they had zero prejudice towards fellow beings. God bless them all.
Given what Gandhi stood for, two things are going severely wrong in India, a handful of extremists have taken over and mistreating the Dalits (Untouchables) and the shameful celebration of the man who shot Gandhi. They are building temples to Godify this man Godse who killed Gandhi. I hope the Indian Government on this day makes a commitment to follow the law, to treat all humans equally and to value the freedom of speech. It is a shame, if we don’t speak up against injustice and let the seeds of discrimination grow in a nation that is beacon of hope to many nations.
Season of Non-Violence
Season of Non-Violence begins today, January 30th, on the day of Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and concludes on April 4th the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It is a “64 Days of Daily Messages for Social Media The site http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence has beautiful graphics and daily messages in web format to inspire, create discussion, and hold in our thoughts each day during the 64 Days of the Season. Consider having your SNV campaign be to share these on Facebook or Twitter. Then, be sure tocheck back in with usto let us know how your social network is growing by sharing these graphics.” I cannot forget my friend Len Ellis of Dallas for his dedication to this season and the messages he shares.
This year like the last few years, we talk about the peace makers of the world, in the beginning it was Gandhi and MLK, now Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela are added, and I have added Prophet Muhammad to the season.
Watch out for the day, I will be giving a talk about what these men did to build a cohesive society, where humanity can live in peace and harmony.
This is not complete, I will be adding more to this at TheGhouseDiary.com
I am proud of the pluralistic ethos of my motherland, India and my homeland,
Happy Republic Day - click the image America. It is a pleasure to call both the nations, “God’s own countries.” Let me explain why, and make a few suggestions that you can act upon as an individual to sustain the pluralistic ethos of India. Let’s do our bit in restoring dharma, the righteous living.
Our nations, Democratic Republic of India and the United States of America are microcosmic representations of the universe we inhabit. We are blessed geographically with a range of topography from deserts to fertile lands, from mountains to the shining sea and the flat lands to valleys. Seasons wise, we enjoy all the four full seasons – winter, spring, summer and the fall. Indeed, we are blessed to be represented by every race, ethnicity and religion.
My interest as a social scientist is in sustaining the pluralistic ethos of India and America, which are threatened by a few short-sighted, but powerful rabble rousers among us.
Pluralistic ethos simply means, living our life and letting others live theirs. It is accepting the God given uniqueness to each one of us. No matter what language we speak, how we look, what we eat, drink, wear, or how we worship the creator, we will accept each other’s uniqueness as legitimate, and then respect the otherness of others. You are who you are, and I am who I am.
Hinduism talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, an idea that we are all part of one family despite our differences. Islam, Judaism and Christianity talk about having a common father and mother; Adam and Eve and we are an extended family. Sikhism blends us all under Wahe Guru and the Baha’i faith wraps all of us as many paths but one source, similarly Jainism, Buddhism, Tribalism and other traditions have richly contributed to the idea of cohesive societies.
Cohesive Societies are communities where people mind their own business, live their own lives and let others live theirs, but yet, work together as one composite unit.
Every Indian and American has a need to feel that he or she is a part of the society, rejection will certainly create problems.As an example of cohesiveness, look at our own bodies, we are made up of several items like heart, brain, kidneys, lungs, liver, anus, mouth, nose, ears etc. No part can claim that his role is the most important one. Indeed, there was a battle once when the organs were arguing about their role in normal functioning of human body. The Anus claimed that he was the most important organ in the body, the other organs laughed and ridiculed him, and to show them, he decided to assert his claim and shuts down for two days causing unbelievable misery and havoc! Frustrated with the pain, the other organs acknowledged his importance, and rightfully called him an ass hole but begged him to start functioning, so others can function normally. A cohesive society is when all of us function together for common good.
Prime Minister Modi had surprised the nation with his inclusionary statement made on November 1, 2014. As a Pluralist, I whole heartedly welcomed that statement and congratulated him for taking that step. He said, “The BJP should be like a bouquet so that every Indian felt there was a flower in it that he or she could identify with. “And, “A poor and illiterate person living in a slum should think, ‘Yes, there is a flower for me in this bouquet’.
At this precise juncture in our history, the Dalits do not feel like a flower in the bouquet. I do invoke the Prime Minister to act on his talk, and create an environment of inclusion. Unless he gets his party men to believe in what he has said, his leadership will remain a mere talk. A few rogue elements from his party are hell bent on throwing his bouquet into gutter; and his legacy is on the line.
Modi can finish his term as another promiser and talker, or become the doer. The choice is clearly his, and he alone is the driver of his legacy. All he has to do is give a 3-minute speech on each major incident like Rape, farmers Suicide, Dalit Suicide, homicide of writers, and witch-hunting for beef and murder of Akhlaq, to assure the people that he does believe in the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, and that he will not tolerate any Indian making the life of another Indian miserable. That is all it takes for Ram’s sake. We are losing the ideal of live and let live, and PM Modi can restore it far more effectively than any one in India at this time.
As Indian Americans, most of us have cherished the values of America and have become Americanized. Being American is respecting and believing in the rights of others, and being American is to value others life liberty and pursuit of their happiness; being American is letting each faith member practice his or her faith, and build his or her place of worship; and being American is NOT drawing sadistic pleasure by denying others rights. Unfortunately, we have a few in both nations who have not imbued the great values of these nations, and it is our duty, and responsibility of each one of us to the be pracharaks of American values.
The idea of Liberty is I don’t agree with you, but I’ll fight for your rights. Yes, if we the Indian Americans can truly call ourselves Americans, we have to speak up.
Suggested actions for the organizations and individuals
We have to have the following actions in building a cohesive India, where no Indian has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, and feel included in every sphere of life.
1. Today, on this Republic Day, let India’s flag be hoisted together with fellow Indians who are Adivasis, Atheists, Bahá’ís, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribal, Zoroastrians and every Indian representation. Let no Indian representation be left out. Reach out and bring them together at the Red Fort, and let them all proudly hoist our Tiranga, then go ahead and give them a hug, it will speak million words of our good intentions. It will generate the spirit of sab ka saath on a social basis.
2. The Indian American Organizations can do the same, invite Indians of all hues to come together, and celebrate the Republic Day in the spirit of India. If your heart is dirty and a sewer runs through it, the people can see through you, and not come, clean it up, they will come. I will be happy to make the calls to those who are unwilling for the sake of India.
3. Acknowledge that we see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names, and as Indians, we should not be biased towards any one.
4. Today, proclaim that India is God’s own country, and is represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. Announce that we are Adivasis, Native Americans, Atheists, Baha’is, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, and Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Pagans, Shinto, Sikhs, , Wicca, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping out there on God’s earth. We are Brown, Black, White, and Yellow and come in all the colors nature has produced us.
5. Aspire for an India that the world can emulate; and not the other way around. India is a pluralistic democracy where everyone can eat, drink, wear or believe whatever he or she wants to in his or her pursuit of happiness.
6. Announce that from this day forward, every Indian will have equal access to education, employment, housing, business loans, and entrepreneurial opportunities and if anyone is denied that opportunity, you will step up and stand up against the violators.
7. Every Indian wants justice and demands a fair treatment of every one of the 1.31 billion Indians; rich or poor, connected or not, we must come to grips with the social and community life to create an exemplary India that will become a model nation in the world. Create an Equal Opportunity Commission based on US Model. Ask not what others will do, ask yourselves, are you capable of being a good Samaritan?
PLEDGE TO ONE INDIA
You can institute a pledge that every public office holder from the Peon to the President of India and everyone in between must take and live by it. Violation should disqualify him or her from holding the public office. Let it be monitored publicly.
As Indians we can that pledge to both India and America on the Republic Day:
1. I pledge allegiance to India, one nation that stands for liberty and justice for all. 2. I pledge that I honor and treat every Indian with “full” dignity. 3. I pledge that all individuals would be treated on par. 4. I pledge that I will treat all religions with equal respect, equal access and equal treatment. 5. I pledge that I will oppose any act that treats any Indian less than me. 6. I Pledge that I will work for an India, where every individual can live with security and aspire for prosperity. 7. I pledge that I will protect, preserve and value every inch of India and every human soul in India
This would be the first step towards ensuring a just, peaceful and prosperous India that can sustain its progress and peace. If you can do it, then you can expect others to do it. I love my India.
I just read the following piece about the caste system in India and am saddened about it.
68 Years have gone by, 3 generations
have elapsed and it is embarrassing to see the untouchability
and mistreatment of Dalits in India.
May be it is time, that we the Indian Americans take this up, and
ask the US immigration to allocate 50% of immigration to the Dalits, they need
uplifting badly, our society has not matured yet to accept each others as
equals. Anyone wants to join me? I want those who are particularly prejudiced
against Dalits, as a repentance or praischit.
US immigration should give first priority to the downtrodden students who have
aspirations to be the best, if Indians are prejudiced, let them not have the
best minds like Rohit Vemula, and let us have them here in the US with us.
Every one of us Indian American ought to be ashamed. We get all the privileges
and demand them, and thanks to the laws of the nations, we get them. By
the way, it is not a Modi problem, it has been there for centuries and it is
time to speak out against it. Modi can certainly take the lead; I have not
given up on him, even though he has remained silent when evil things have
happened in our country giving them no discouragement.
My father was a Mayor of the town of Yelahanka, and he had the
balls to go against the customs of the town. He allowed Dalits inside our home,
and my mother made tea and served them in the same cups that we used, and my
mother gave them food in the same plates we did. This was not acceptable to any one at that time. My father heard a lot of
bullshit from the town’s people; he did not give a shit about such non-sense
and stood out to do what was right. Leadership is bringing people to do the
right thing, and not chickening out and doing what appeases the crowd, which is not
leadership. Deep down people like him, they wanted to be good people, but customs had chained them in their tracks. He was one of the most liked persons in the town, and the entire
town called him Mamu (Maternal Uncle) and came to him to resolve their
the early 60's, our town got the water tower for the first time, and water
lines were laid out and public taps were set in corners of a few streets.
We had to carry a bucket or tumbler to the street corners to collect
water from the public tap. I feel sad, even now as I think about it, the way
the Dalits were treated there. There were two lines - one for all of us and the
other for the Dalits, and they did not get their turn until all are exhausted
on the other line. You should have seen their faces, when the others washed the
faucet several times before they collected the water, as if Dalits have
contaminated the tap. It was humiliating, and I have fought for their right to
take the turn in the line.... I have been blessed, no on fought
back with me, isn't this is what it takes to stop bullying? Just speak
I hope, at least when you visit India, you speak up and change the world around
you. If you do, you deserve to feel good about yourselves.
God bless the Dalits and the down trodden people around the world.
# # #
Why are India's Dalit students taking their lives? Courtesy of BBC
Mr Vemula, 26, was one of five Dalit - formerly known as untouchable - students who were protesting against their expulsion from the university's housing facility. India's 180 million Dalits are among its most wretched citizens, because of an unforgiving and cruel caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the heap.
Mr Vemula and the four other students faced allegations last August that they attacked a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) - the student wing of the governing Hindu nationalist BJP - on the campus. Some reports say an investigation had found no "conclusive evidence" of the assault.
The university stopped paying his monthly stipend of 25,000 rupees ($369; £258) allegedly because he raised issues under the campus's Dalit-led students union.
It also began an investigation into his - and his friends - conduct. In August federal minister Bandaru Dattatreya, a BJP junior minister, wrote a letter to the federal education ministry complaining that the university had become a "den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics".
In September, Mr Vemula and four other students were suspended - although the minister denies this was linked to his missive, which he says was not about the Dalit students, but a general comment on the restive campus.
Mr Vemula's death has sparked off a firestorm of protest across India.
Poet and writer Meena Kandasamy says the student's suicide was "not just an individual exit strategy, it is a shaming of society that has failed him or her". She wrote "education has now become a disciplining enterprise working against Dalit students: they are constantly under threat of rustication, expulsion, defamation, discontinuation".
Mr Vemula's is not an exceptional story of caste discrimination on India's campuses. One report said eight Dalit students had taken their lives "unable to cope" with caste politics at Hyderabad University in the past decade. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, 18 Dalit students ended their lives in some of India's premier educational institutes, according to another estimate.
Some eight years ago, Apoorvanand, who teaches at Delhi University, had gone to Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India's leading medical school, to investigate a case of discrimination against a Dalit student.
He says he found vile abuses written on the doors and walls of hostel rooms where Dalit students lived. (There was no name calling, because direct abuse would lead to prosecution under tough anti-discrimination laws.) When he went to the director of the institute to lodge a complaint, the latter flatly denied that there was caste discrimination on the campus.
This is a school which produces India's best doctors. This is also the school where a federal investigation into complaints of caste-based harassment and discrimination against Dalit and tribal students uncovered a shocking picture of abuse.
The probe found most of the Dalit and tribal students complaining that they "did not receive the kind of support other students received from their teachers". Examiners asked about their caste backgrounds. The students said teachers did not give them the marks they deserved in exams, and their papers were not evaluated properly. More than 90% of the students said they were routinely humiliated by examiners in practical and oral examinations.
"There is systemic persecution of Dalit students in Indian universities. They are often failed by their teachers deliberately," Apoorvanand told me.
Many Dalit students who get into colleges and universities through affirmative action quotas - restorative justice for centuries of historical wrongs against the community - come to campuses with deficiencies in education, including a feeble command over the English language. Most of them are first generation graduates, come from poor families - like Mr Vemula, born of a father who works as a security guard and a mother who's a tailor - and often struggle to fit in.
India's colleges and universities are theatres of fierce competition and confrontation: only a privileged few manage to get a limited number of seats through fiercely contested exams.
Upper caste students, say many, have a "natural hatred and antagonism" for the Dalits and tribespeople who take up seats reserved for their communities. "There is a lot of anger against affirmative action and their beneficiaries, but then there is little the upper castes can do about it because the quotas are constitutionally mandated," says Apoorvanand.
So the students are shamed and mocked at as "quota students", and their abilities mocked. In absence of effective student support groups or university structures, warning meltdown signals among suffering students are ignored.
Politicians are accused of not confronting this appalling discrimination with the zeal it deserves.
Instead, Dalit and tribals have also become pawns in India's hideous vote bank politics. In modern-day India, the segregation of Dalits begins early: they are separated by markers and coloured wrist bands in classrooms; and forced to clean school toilets. Upper caste school children routinely boycott school lunchescooked by Dalit cooks.
Mr Vemula is just the latest victim of India's scourge of untouchability.