Is Gandhigiri relevant today?

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Recently, on 2 October, the nation celebrated Gandhi Jayanti to honour the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi Jayanti is solemnly celebrated throughout Arunachal with functions and prayers. The United Nations has also declared 2 October as the International Day of Non-violence in honour of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi led India to freedom from British rule without weapons or army, through nonviolence. Normally, nonviolence is taken as a weakness, but Gandhiji showed the world that nonviolence and tolerance are great weapons. He said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Other principles espoused by Gandhiji were truth, equality, secularism, swachhta, etc. Gandhiji’s life was the finest example of ‘simple living, high thinking’, and his followers included Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Against Gandhiji’s principle of ahimsa, violent protests and clashes are increasing in the world. Many wars are being fought over national/state boundaries, religions, caste, race, river sharing, economics, etc. Hundreds of terrorist groups are operating in numerous countries. Thousands of humans are losing their lives in battles or terrorist-related violence. Minor disagreements or clashes are triggering people to take up arms and attack each other.

These increasing cases of violence and intolerance is being flamed and fuelled by the recent narrative of extreme right wing nationalism and opinions. Narratives like ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’ are being propounded. These differences are manifesting in violent clashes. Between nations, conflicts occur due to disputes over territory, river sharing, religion and economics. Within nations, humans are clashing over race, caste, religion, injustice, etc.

Against Gandhiji’s principles of truthfulness, many are lying habitually. Honesty and truthfulness have become rare qualities. Regarding equality also,, India is the second most unequal country in the world with the top one percent of the population owning nearly 60 percent of the wealth.

Casteism and racism are prevalent in many parts of the nation. Many conflicts and clashes within India are also caused by religious intolerance.

Even in our area, honesty and truthfulness are gradually decreasing. Regarding conflicts, it is estimated that there are hundreds of kebangs/mels going on per day in our villages and towns to resolve disputes over land, property, marital disputes, theft, etc. Reactions to minor disputes are typically ‘kaat or maar dunga!’ Racism and clan-ism are also increasing in our state.

Ironically, Gandhiji’s principles are more relevant today. Like his quote, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind,” in the long run violence breeds more violence, making us more insecure and unhappy. Similarly, many civilized societies and nations who display higher degrees of honesty and truthfulness are more stable, peaceful and developed. Likewise, many nations are imbibing and adopting the principles of secularism, equality, etc.

Do you believe in Gandhiji’s principles of ahimsa, honesty, equality, secularism and tolerance? By the way, Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded the Bharat Ratna and 2 October is also marked as a dry day. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)