Freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, 102, was initially a revolutionary who used time bombs to destroy property under the colonial rulers. But he soon realised the futility of violence and became a Gandhian. He continues to champion causes that are close to his heart and resonate with the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.
Excerpts from The Hindu ’s interview with him:
Have we as a society forgotten Gandhi?
There are explicit attempts to force the erasure of his memory and they seem to be successful. We appear to be moving into the age of Nathuram Godse, where writers and activists are assassinated for their views. Gandhi played his part and showed us the way, which we need to rediscover now. He is all the more relevant today, in an age of post-truth, unprecedented violence and suppression of dissent by the state.
If Gandhi were to be alive today, what do you think he would be doing?
He would have launched a satyagraha in Kashmir asking the Union government to retract the repealing of Article 370. After all, he went on a fast demanding that the coffers of India during Partition be shared with Pakistan. Gandhi would have also sat down both Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, as both are indulging in war-mongering and irresponsible nuclear brinkmanship, and tried to drill some sense into them. The bomb will only lead to sarvanasha [destruction of everything].
How do you see the nationalism propounded today, as compared to Gandhi’s idea of nationalism?
The nationalism propounded by the Bharatiya Janata Party today is a very narrow idea built on ethnicity and jingoism, and defined by exclusion rather than inclusion. Though Gandhi had a larger idea of Indian civilisation, he proposed decentralisation at the village level, which would accommodate all communities, interests and autonomies, and not a strong rigid Centre that brooked no heterogeneity. Gandhi himself said that India could never be a Hindu Rashtra. If we go by the nationalism of today, he would have been branded the biggest “anti-national”.