Gopalkrishna Gandhi warns against ‘poison of communal hatred’

Gopalkrishna Gandhi. File

Gopalkrishna Gandhi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

When the country is celebrating Azadi’s Amrit Mahotsav, one should not see the “ zahar” (poison) of communal hatred spreading, former West Bengal Governor and diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi said on Friday,

Mr. Gandhi made the remarks while delivering a lecture in the memory of H.Y. Sharada Prasad, who had served as the information advisor to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The theme of the lecture was “Prisoner Number 8677: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s years in Yeravada Jail between 1922 and 1924”.

Mr. Gandhi said that one of the important inferences from the Mahatma’s multiple prison terms is how he strived to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity. “He succeeded partially but poignantly, laying down his life in the process,” he said, adding that the sense of co-existence has been ruptured, distrust is now endemic, and there is chronic disinformation.

“In this era of Azadi’s Amrit Mahotsav, we should not be seeing the zahar (poison) of communal hatred spreading. A strong prevalent sentiment today is [doing so]” Mr. Gandhi said.

In the wake of a growing communal divide, who can lead the fight against it, posed Mr. Gandhi.

“In an interview to The Hindu on April 15, 1924, Mahatma Gandhi said non-violent movements that are committed can do without leadership. The road ahead is narrow but is straight and, therefore, simpler. Only the will is required but no cunning,” the former diplomat said, quoting the Mahatma.

He said Mahatma Gandhi served his first jail term in 1922 not as a dominant figure in the Congress party or a mass leader but for what he had written in his journal, Young India.

“Gandhi was jailed in 1922 for what he had written in his journal Young India, even as Lokmanya Tilak had been in 1908 for an article in his journal, Kesari. In other words, Gandhi’s first and defining in prisonment was not in his capacity as the dominant figure in the Congress, a mass leader being looked up to by millions as a Mahatma. It was as a writer, a journalist and editor,” Mr. Gandhi said.

“This has salience in our times when freedom of expression is under strain in many parts of the world,” he added.

The former diplomat, who now teaches History at a private university near Delhi, said the third key inference is the need to preserve Swaraj that was won through the Non-cooperation Movement.

Drawing from the Mahatma’s experience in prisons — Gandhi spent a total of 2,335 days over 10 imprisonments in India and South Africa — Mr. Gandhi so called for prison reforms that are compatible with human decency.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2022 2:07:45 pm |