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Demolish the walls of hate; Feel Gandhiji in a million smiles

"White terrorism involves the babus, bureaucrats, politicians and contractors who eat the vitals of the institution they are serving and close their eyes for every thing around. For them country India is not important- what is important is their money, monthly salary, happy-home, luxury and extra perks (illegitimate income)."

Biraja Mahapatra : October 04, 2009

India is going to celebrate 141st birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation, on 2nd October. His teachings on  non-violence and the message to demolish the walls of hatred has become more relevant today as the country has witnessed terrorists attacks in different strategic locations at Mumbai and the month-long communal violence in Kandhamal that has tarnished the peaceful image of Orissa in the last one year.

The continuous terrorist attacks at Mumbai, Ajmer, Hyderabad, Bangalore and other places in the country has projected a negative image of Muslims. All Muslims cannot be terrorists. Similarly, the Hindus, who resort to planting bombs are not saints. All Christians cannot be angels. Ironically, the walls of hate have been built in this country amongst all the faiths and communities – thanks to growth of fanaticism and religious chauvinism unleashed by vested interests having a say in our collective religious lives.

Swami Vivekanand had said, “Every religion is a statement of God.” If every religion is a god-given statement and if the goal of all religions is the same, where is the need of unleashing a terror in the name of religion? How can there be an Islamic terrorist or Hindu terrorist or even a Christian terrorist? Who have coined all these phrases? How can there be a religious hiatus? How can a Temple of God or Masjid of Allah or a Church of Jesus be the devil’s workshop?

If any self proclaimed god’s representative on this earth does it, I think we should lynch him or her without having any mercy. Does it mean, I give a call that we should take law in our own hands? Can in a civilized society, I say let us wield guns to kill the devils like naxals are doing in Orissa and elsewhere? Am I sure who I call a devil is a devil?  My answer to all these questions is an emphatic - NO.

All these I say in the context of terrorism, which troubles you, me and all of us and in fact most parts of this country are under the fear of attack of terror. Terrorism in the name of religion is an out come of intense sense of hate. Vandalizing churches in Kandhamal or any other religious institutions is also an outcome of hate. Cities after cities are burning. In the name of Naxalism, hundreds of criminals are throwing challenge to the government killing police officers and common innocent people just giving them a bad name. These criminals are getting support in the name of ideology, getting money to unleash terror in the jungles. Where from do they get money to continue with their diabolical activities? Is it just the looted amount from the rich or that they are being funded by some sources which are working against the interest of the country? If they are so patriotic and lover of the people, what prevents them to come forward to take care of their own country and become leaders. Violence cannot be a means to achieve any salutary end howsoever glorious that may be.

Is it not correct that in their love for jungle-raj, Innocent people are being mercilessly killed? It is a war against the government. It is a challenge to the civil society? Every body in this country is condemning terrorism. We see terrorism with a jaundiced eye. We term an act of terror as Islamic terror or Hindu terror or Christian terror. And then we go on to blame the government of the day. If a Mumbai like incident happens killing three hundred people, we take out procession wielding candle lights to claim that we are Indians. We shout slogans “jo hamse takraiega voh chur chur ho jayega.” little realizing that we are never strong and emotionally united. 

Though a good number of voters from among us do not vote, they talk of the requirement of stringent laws. They hate politicians but go to them for favour when they get caught for offending the laws. In most cases police is approached for favour by offenders themselves through powerful public representatives. If my neighbour’s house is a haven of terrorists, I do not dare to inform police about it least my family will be in trouble. I do not realize that I am the next person in the queue for the chopping block.

What have we learnt from experience? Can police stop terrorism? Can government stop terrorism? Can law stop terrorism? If our collective wisdom finds an answer in “Yes”- then I would say we are irrational.

I put a situation to all of us—can there be a vacuum in the air or water? The moment, vacuum is created, water or air gush in to that vacuum. Tradition has it that when a state / kingdom becomes weak, the neighbouring powerful kingdoms attempt to invade it and annex it. This has been the history of the world, particularly the sub-continent that we call India or Bharat today.

Over 500 small and big kingdoms fought among themselves for centuries together and thus became prone to attack from forces those came from beyond the Sindhu river. Foreign invasions continued unabated. Countries became weaker economically. The trend continued. Status quo-ists representing higher class always remained the beneficiaries in any given period. The back bone of this great land was the spiritualism (love for gods and goddesses) but it received shocks because of spread of hate by one religion against another. The flourishing culture of the Gupta era in the third century gradually collapsed and there has been a decline in all spheres – be it art, culture or languages. India continued to fight foreign elements particularly in the last thousand years.

In 1947, British left. We got independence. We gave a constitution to ourselves. We became a biggest democracy of the world. But we failed to give ourselves the much desired identity - a sense of being Indian. We continued to be divided emotionally. We feel being Indians when we are abroad with our passport. We feel being Indians when there is a war or a cricket match. We feel being Indian when there is a picture like Laggan or Chak De or Border but that is for the purpose of a temporary entertainment.

We have a democracy. We are duty bound to elect our own leaders so that we govern ourselves. Yet we were taught to hate politics. By doing so we prevented good people from entering politics. Ultimately unwanted people got into politics. When they fail to give results, we blame the government ignoring the fact we ourselves are responsible for the failure. When the leaders or managers of a democracy are not competent and committed to the purpose they are elected, then anarchy is bound to visit. Government is bound to face challenges from within in the form of terrorism in White and Red.

White terrorism involves the babus, bureaucrats, politicians and contractors who eat the vitals of the institution they are serving and close their eyes for every thing around. For them country India is not important- what is important is their money, monthly salary, happy-home, luxury and extra perks (illegitimate income). These people justify taking money for any thing and every thing – be it taking a ration card, birth certificate or movement of a file from one table to another table. Is it not terrorism when a pensioner does not get pension money merely because he does not have money to satisfy the greed of a Babu.

Thousands of people are dying of heart-attacks and shocks on account of harassment from the government offices. And, Orissa still remains one of the poorest states because of the large scale corruption as the funds allocated for the development of the poor people is being eaten away by the corrupt government officials and politicians.

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The other form is Red that involves criminals in the name of Islamic terrorists or radical Hindus or rich and powerful Christians- who never mind to see the picture of the dead in the pools of blood and taking credit in the number of deaths they count. While the first one comes from one’s selfishness, the second one comes from the intense hate.

In fact both corruption and terrorism are behavioral disorders and these cannot be stopped by enforcement of laws. Laws can be enforced only if the citizens approve of it.  In Delhi, building bye-laws are being violated every day by educated residents, police and Municipal Corporation officials. Smoking is banned in Delhi  but police officers themselves are found smoking at public places. Therefore, behavioural disorders cannot be corrected unless there is pressure from the social milieu.

This means terrorism  and corruption shall continue unabated until our house (read country) continues to be divided. Today, our house is not in order. How would we bring order to our house?

There has to be an intense sense of hate against the activity such as terrorism and corruption.. This intense sense of hate can be fostered only when there is a collective programme involving each and every individual and that programme has to be a celebration that people must enjoy. This will bring in the much desired order to our house. But how can it be done?

Yes It can be done, by inculcating a sense of belonging to the house in each individual and the house is our country. The answer is we must love our own nation. Once we get united emotionally, we can fight any thing and everything that comes in the way of our nation’s progress. We need a mechanism or instrument that can keep us united and that instrument could be a powerful weapon to create a sense of hate against terrorism and corruption. What could be the nature of that instrument? That must be an instrument which does not hurt any good citzen’s sentiment irrespective of his or her social and religious identity. That instrument must take care of the common interest of every body against terror. That must wake up the cynics (selfish educated) from the deep slumber to make them aware of their own responsibility. That must aim at addressing a problem common to all of us and for this we require an electrifying moment. What gives us electrifying moment?

Glory gives us electrifying moment. It may come to us in form of a victory in war, windfall in money, power or an award in respect of an achievement. Country’s glory comes mostly in victory in wars or contests or festivals. There are two types of festivals. One you bask in glory for the past achievements and the other is a festival of commitment. Festival of commitment includes EID, Rakhi, Garva Chauth in North India and Savitri brat in Orissa among other festivals and the other one is Independence Day, Dusshera or Janmastami. 

Now what I am indicating is a festival of commitment to the country. It has to be a festival across the country involving all Indians at one point of time. For this festival there has to be a mantra for all people. That mantra has to in the people’s language and in fact in one’s own mother tongue. That mantra is the pledge of allegiance to the constitution which rules supreme and which is our true national religion. We have tried to draft that mantra to say “we the people of India today do solemnly pledge ourselves to the service of our nation with honesty, sincerity and commitment, always keeping our nation’s interest paramount in all that we think do or say for the greater glory of this land.” This is in circulation in a large number of educational institutions. This is being appreciated by lawyers in Delhi. We are now drafting the pledge in all Indian languages and making ourselves ready for the big moment and the biggest movement. If this gives us the desired yield then what are we going to achieve? Please see:

1. The biggest campaign to promote Indian-ness.

2. The first pledge of allegiance to the constitution.

3.  The biggest campaign to hate corruption and its ugly face called terrorism.

4.  The first national festival in the true sense.

5. The first national event involving all Indians in unison.

6. The first national event involving all religious institutions

7. The first stepping stone to a cultural renaissance.

8. The first movement which gives equal importance to all languages, all individuals, all faiths.

9.  It will be the biggest secular festival in the country to be celebrated religiously.

10. It will be the first major step in the country to demolish the walls of hate amongst different faiths.

Two pertinent questions often come to me. The questioner asked, “I am little worried about playing the nationalism card  over and above the call to be a true Indian - tolerant, living with the cherished values of ahimsa, and the values taught by a long lineage of  sages and seers of this land. Does the nationalism call not worry you?  And the answer is why should this nationalism call worry any body? We say one should be tolerant, live a life with cherished value of ahimsa and stick to moral values. This is what we say in the pledge itself. You love your nation does not mean you hate another. It is a call to the whole humanity to love one’s own soil and people. Anybody cannot and never talk of violence in any form.

The other question - what was the need to involve religious institutions in a national pledge festival activity which is more political in nature? And the answer is we are talking of a celebration of our commitment to the country. In fact such a thing involving all religions for our country has never happened in India. Religious bodies need not affect their regular temple / mosque / church or other institutional rituals.

All that these institutions need to do is to make people alert by beating drums from temples, sending out the clarion call from masjids, and through the pealing of church bells, and the like, so that people can be alerted about taking the pledge. Since there are religious shrines in every village and hamlet and city and corner of India, this will take the message to even remotest village in the country and involve each and every household. The Pledge Festival will evolve as a festival of commitment to the country to be reiterated by each and every citizen. Even those who would not like to empathize with or participate in such a festival will get the message and ask themselves about their roles in this sense of belonging to the country.

For thousand years, India has been seeing bloodshed owing to religious fanaticism and the religious institutions which have been shaping the civilizations at times jumped the rails. The consequences have been terrible and gory. When our religious bodies talk of tolerance, they themselves become parties to instigate violence by one community against another. Today our intellectuals have forgotten that collectively religious institutions can form the most powerful institution which can really play a great role in fostering social harmony and love among the people.

Let all the religions join together for this common cause that people must hate Terrorism and Corruption. All religions preach the value of love. In the court of God, Ram, Allah and Jesus, there cannot be any place of hate against civilization. Hence, let this be our message on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti to all the religious institutions that they help us to demolish the walls of hate amongst the communities and let us unitedly work to make this a reality.

(Author is a writer and lawyer based in New Delhi and, also, the founder of Build India group that campaigns for a citizens pledge to the country. The article carries a special relevance to the Gandhi Jayanti and is distributed by Janata Vikash Manch - JVM)


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