Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Gandhi Was Assassinated?

Sixty One years ago, on Jan. 30, 1948, Mohandas Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist. Godse believed that the Mahatma, or the great soul, was responsible for the 1947 partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Godse and his friend Narayan Apte were hanged. His brother Gopal Godse and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment for their part in the conspiracy. Gopal Godse remained in jail for 18 years and after that lived in a small apartment in Pune until his death on November 26th, 2005. In the February 14th, 2000 edition of the TIME magazine, an interview with Gopal Godse was published. During my research over why Gandhi was assassinated, I found that interview. Here is the excerpt from that interview which I think you will find really interesting and shocking simultaneously.

TIME: What happened in January 1948?
Godse: On Jan. 20, Madanlal Pahwa exploded a bomb at Gandhi's prayer meeting in Delhi. It was 50 meters away from Gandhi. The other conspirators ran away from the place. Madanlal was caught there. Then there was a tension in our minds that we had to finish the task before the police caught us. Then Nathuram took it on himself to do the thing. We only wanted destiny to help us i.e. we should not be get caught on the spot before he acted.

TIME: Why did you want to kill Gandhi?
Godse: Gandhi was a hypocrite. Even after the massacre of the Hindus by the Muslims, he was happy. The more the massacres of the Hindus, the taller his flag of secularism.

TIME: Can you explain how he created his mass following?
Godse: The credit goes to him for maneuvering the media. He captured the press. That was essential. How Gandhi walked, when he smiled, how he waved... All these minor details that the people did not require were imposed upon them to create an atmosphere around Gandhi. And the more ignorant the masses, the more popular was Gandhi. So they always tried to keep the masses ignorant.

TIME: But surely it takes more than good publicity to create a Gandhi?
Godse: There is another thing. Generally in the Indian masses, people are attracted toward saintism. Gandhi was shrewd to use his saintdom for politics. After his death the government used him. The government knew that he was an enemy of Hindus, but they wanted to show that he was a staunch Hindu. So the first act they did was to put "Hey Ram" into Gandhi's dead mouth.

TIME: You mean that he did not say "Hey Ram" as he died?
Godse: No, he did not say it. You see, it was an automatic pistol. It had a magazine for nine bullets but there were actually seven at that time. And once you pull the trigger, within a second, all the seven bullets had passed. When these bullets pass through crucial points like the heart, consciousness is finished. You have no strength. When Nathuram saw Gandhi was coming, he took out the pistol and folded his hands with the pistol inside it. There was one girl very close to Gandhi. He feared that he would hurt the girl. So he went forward and with his left hand pushed her aside and shot. It happened within one second. You see, there was a film and some Kingsley fellow (Ben Kingsley) had acted as Gandhi. Someone asked me whether Gandhi said "Hey Ram"? I said Kingsley did say it. But Gandhi did not. Because that was not a drama.

TIME: Many people think Gandhi deserved to be nominated TIME's Person of the Century. (He was one of two runners-up, after Albert Einstein).
Godse: I name him the most cruel person for Hindus in India. The most cruel person! That is how I term him.

TIME: Is that why Gandhi had to die?
Godse: Yes. For months he was advising Hindus that they must never be angry with the Muslims. What sort of ahimsa (non-violence) is this? His principle of peace was bogus. In any free country, a person like him would be shot dead officially because he was encouraging the Muslims to kill Hindus.

TIME: But his philosophy was of turning the other cheek. He felt one person had to stop the cycle of violence.
Godse: The world does not work that way.

TIME: Is there anything that you admire about Gandhi?
Godse: Firstly, the mass awakening that Gandhi did. In our school days Gandhi was our idol. Secondly, he removed the fear of prison. He said it is different to go into prison for a theft and different to go in for Satyagraha (Civil Disobedience). As youngsters, we had our enthusiasm, but we needed some channel. We took Gandhi to be our channel. We don't repent for that.

TIME: Did you not admire his principles of non-violence?
Godse: Non-violence is not a principle at all. He did not follow it. In politics you cannot follow non-violence. You cannot follow honesty. Every moment, you have to give a lie. Every moment you have to take a bullet in hand and kill someone. Why was he proved to be a hypocrite? Because he was in politics with his so-called principles. Is his non-violence followed anywhere? Not in the least. Nowhere.

TIME: What was the most difficult thing about killing Gandhi?
Godse: The greatest hurdle before us was not that of giving up our lives or going to the gallows. It was that we would be condemned both by the government and by the public. Because the public had been kept in the dark about what harm Gandhi had done to the nation. How he had fooled them!

TIME: Did the people condemn you?
Godse: Yes. People in general did. Because they had been kept ignorant.

Nothing really is left now to write or say. Gopal Godse said everything. Anyways if anyone of you have a different opinion or any comment over this, you are invited to do so.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bharat Ratna - Really?

Hey all ! Awfully long time since I wrote something new. And it would have been extended if I had not paid attention to something, I think, is really important.

Lately, there was much buzz about the Padma Awards as it was announced by the Home Ministry of India that dignitaries from various fields will receive these awards. Many reactions were observed and written all over the country by the journalists. So, falling to the natural quest I just googled about the highest Civilian Award of India i.e. the Bharat Ratna. It was first given in 1954. The reason to why I pondered about Bharat Ratna was that they are the awards which are given in the rare cases. For example, it was not given to anyone during the years 2001-2007. Anyways, I downloaded the list and found that only 41 persons until now have received this honor.

When I further studied the list, I found a very interesting pattern, which ran parallel to the pattern of the political parties which came to power in the Centre. As previously mentioned, every year this award is announced by the Home Ministry of India which is an integral part of the Central Government. So, it is but obvious that this factor influences the selection of the person to receive this award. But it will influence the selection procedure to this extent, I had never expected. Here I should mention that I am not questioning whether they deserved it or not (I am not really the judge), I just want to highlight the pattern.

The first interesting incident to mention is that in 1955, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru received the Bharat Ratna. No wonder, he did enormously during the freedom struggle and was a front runner in every campaign. But the thing is that when he was awarded the prestigious award, he was the sitting Prime Minister. Is it not ridiculous? It’s just like writing the exam and checking it yourself afterward.

The same was in the case of Mrs. Indira Gandhi who received it in 1971, during her tenure as the Prime Minister. Funny.

Now, as the demolition of Indian National Congress had started after Rajiv Gandhi's tenure in 1989, a hung assembly resulted in the formation of a Coalition Government in 1990, which eventually led to a minority Prime Minister, Mr. V P Singh. And as expected, the Messiah of Minority Communities in India, Dr. B R Ambedkar received the Bharat Ratna in 1990.

And as Congress returned to power in 1991 after the fall of the Coalition Government led by Mr. Chandra Shekhar and swept the elections due to the sympathy wave which blew across the country due to the assassination of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, he had to be given his due. The then Prime Minister was Mr. P V Narshimha Rao and this year the Bharat Ratna was awarded posthumous to Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. The other recipient of this award in this year was Mr. Morarji Desai who was also a notable Congressman for years.

In 1992, in order to appease the industrialist brothers, the award was given to Mr. J R D Tata. The other person who received the award posthumous was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, another notable Congressman.

And the final "trend". As soon as Bhartiya Janata Party returned to power in 1998 after the 13-day glitch in 1996. Jayaprakash Narayan, the patron of the Janata Party of 1970's which formed the first Non-Congress Government in India, and whose subsidiary is the present-day BJP, posthumous received the award for the year 1998. As if it was the due on BJP to give the award to him.

The whole purpose of writing this post and to do so much research was that I really wanted to share with you, the alleged anomalies which exist in the process of selecting persons for these awards. It is just a small example of what exactly happens in India before and during issuing the lists for these Civilian Awards. So, you can judge yourself whether or not some people who could not make to these lists, are not at all less talented than their counterparts who figure in the lists.

Comments Invited.