Gandhi Jayanti Special : Is it really the India Bapu dreamt of?

2 Oct 1969, a date that is written in the history and will always be remembered, as it is the day when the legendary leader who believed in non-violence and swadeshi was born.

Yes, it is Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation and also Bapu. He was born in Porbandar, Gujarat and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family. Bapu was trained in law at the Inner Temple, London and fought Indian community’s struggle for civil rights for the first time in South Africa.

Bapu returned to India in 1915 and immediately set to work on improving the living conditions of the citizens of India and fight for independence. In the very beginning, Bapu set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. He believed that the farmers were the core of India and they should be helped in every way.

He assumed the position of the Indian National Congress in 1921 and began his journey of achieving independence by non-violence. He led many campaigns against the Britishers to attain freedom and the famous among them were Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942.

Gandhi’s vision of India after independence was not what India has turned up to be now. Bapu dreamt of a violence-free and religious pluralism India. He never wanted the citizens of India to fight over religion, caste, creed and colour. Bapu never believed in discrimination. Bapu never thought of an India where the farmers did suicide and the poor were getting poorer. Bapu never believed indiscrimination and always wanted to empower the women. He never dreamt of an India where the girls would not feel safe to step out after dark.

When a few people were interviewed and asked question that is this the India Bapu dreamt of, many of them replied no. They said that the condition of India is deteriorating day by day on the social front especially. People have become selfish and actually, they have lost the love for the nation. Hindu-Muslims are fighting amongst each other. Muslims are being blamed for every suspicious attack and they no more feel safe in the Country.

The people said that the eternal flame burns at the place where Mahatma Gandhi is cremated, but many of the people have forgotten the leaders and their sacrifice. Some of the Muslims also admitted that it has now become a trend in India that if the Muslims are verbally abused than the party will get the votes, it has become a politics to capture vote banks. Some people said that the biggest lesson that Gandhi taught was that of non-violence and the Indians have failed to follow that.

Bapu had always wanted the Indian women to be free and independent, to feel safe and not be discriminated on the basis of gender. During a speech given by Bapu on October 20, 1917, at the Second Gujarat Educational Conference he quoted a Doha by Tulsidas:  “Tulsidas says at one place: ‘The drum, the fool, the Sudra, the animal and the woman – all these need beatings.” After this, he said that though he adored Tulsidas Ji but his adoration was not blind. He said that women were not a thing that anybody owns and cannot be beaten or treated the way anyone likes.

He always supported that even the females should be educated. he was firm on the point that women’s education is an absolute necessity. He also felt the need to change dominant male perceptions, particularly that women are inferior creatures. This is what Bapu believed and wanted the free India to be like.

But in reality, if taken just the recent incident of the molestation in the Banaras Hindu University, where the victim was questioned that what was she doing so late at night when she complained, this is what India is today. Gandhi believed in non-violence and freedom of speech, but what kind of freedom are the people living in India where journalists like Gauri Lankesh are brutally murdered for having an ideology and thinking different from the others and she dared to express them openly.

When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, on this very day, 2 Oct he began launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Through this campaign, the Prime Minister initiated a very noble cause of attaining a clean India. Today Morning, Narendra Modi visited the Raj Ghat to pay floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary. Modi had with very good intention launched the Clean India campaign and no doubt everyone is trying to give in their contribution, but there are still places that are totally ignored and unattended in a matter of cleanliness.

It is not just the duty of the Prime Minister or any social organisation or political leaders to clean the India, it is the responsibility of each and every citizen of India to make the nation garbage free. Modi also began the open defecation free campaign and many cities have declared themselves to be 100% open defecation free but the reality needs to be checked that are the toilets made even worth using or are they a means of further more spreading diseases.

There are still laces in the country where people have to walk miles to attend the nature’s call especially the women. And these are the women borne to get infected soon with diseases as waiting or controlling for too long can cause dangerous medical problems. From fancy toilets to dirty toilets to no toilets at all why is there is a steep decline in the availability of sanitation in India.

This is not the India that Bapu dreamt of, This Gandhi Jayanti let us all pledge to work towards the India Mahatma Gandhi. He always said that “Be the change you want to see in the world”, let us try and be the change that we want to see in the changed India.