Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation spearheaded the Indian struggle for freedom holding high the precepts of Satyagraha (Truth) and Ahimsa (Non-violence). Holding onto truth and offering passive resistance to the British Rule, Gandhi encouraged the freedom fighters to keep away from violence and bloodshed. The non-violent transfer of power from the British to the Indian hands in 1947 has marveled historians world over.
When the people of India represented by the Constituent Assembly constituted and gave to themselves a Constitution, they enshrined the ideals of JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY and FRATERNITY. These ideals echo the Gandhian precepts of Satyagraha and Ahimsa and are meant to keep the citizens of a diverse India united against all odds.
In the rights-based world that we live in today, where every person hankers after his/her own rights, is it still possible to practise non-violence and hold on to truth? Wouldn’t we be labeled as failures and cowards who fear to retaliate? As being too naïve to deviate from what is true? This is after all a different day and age!
Hundreds of years before Mahatma Gandhi spoke of these values, Jesus Christ preached and lived them. So impressed was Gandhi in these values that he used them in his struggle against apartheid in South Africa and later on in his fight against the British in India. In the words of Gandhi, “The example of Jesus’ suffering is a factor in the composition of my un-dying faith in non-violence.”
There we go! The age-old principles of more than two thousand years cannot become redundant in a post-modern world so easily. Civilization after civilization has passed by, dynasty after dynasty has passed by…yet these principles hold true even today. The immediate years post-independence were extremely challenging for a nascent India. Yet the ‘tryst with destiny’ that India made at that time has taken her a long way ahead.
As citizens of a free country every Indian ought to resolve to hold high the ideals of truth and non-violence which are not pathways of the weak but the gateways to greatness. To quote Gandhi again – “Seeming failure is not of the law of Satyagraha but of incompetence of the Satyagrahist by whatever cause induced…. The name of Jesus at once comes to the lips. His was non-violence par excellence.”
A couple of days back I watched the movie “Airlift” and I was quite impressed. Impressed not just with the movie but also the people involved in the real incident that the movie was based on. In spite of minimal support from any Government, some volunteers manage to do one of the biggest evacuation programs in the world history – just to save their own people.
We all have met Indians who are absolutely resigned and cynical about how India is. They complain of bad infrastructure, hygiene, poverty, corruption and the list goes on. Some of those people choose to be in India and continue to complain about the governance, authorities and everything around them and there are others who choose to leave this country to go elsewhere and they continue to shame their own country on a foreign land.
Few months back, when I told some of my friends that I have given up my LPG subsidy because I really CAN afford the full cost of LPG cylinder, I got this reaction – Why should we give up our subsidy when the rich netas of this country eat in a highly subsidized parliament canteen? I just had one answer for them – What is the difference between me and those netas if I also choose to do what they are doing? Yes it is true that there is huge gap between how governance has been in India till date and what we expect out of a “decently good” government.
I live in Whitefield Bangalore and if you start following some news about this area of Bangalore, you will know that this place is a major IT hub of the city and has the most horrible infrastructure in the whole city. There is a NGO named Whitefield Rising which organizes volunteers to work with authorities to get some structure to this place. There are retired volunteers who have become traffic wardens and they stand in sun and pollution to manage the traffic for the whole day. There are kids and young adults who take up spot fixing projects on the weekends. Spot fixing is a project where they pick a spot that it dirtied by dumped garbage and they spend whole 2 days cleaning it and educating people around to not make that place a garbage dump again. There are hundreds of other volunteers who are working day and night to educate people on garbage segregation.
It moves me when I see thousands of Bangaloreans getting together to actually make their own place better. They choose not to blame the authorities and government while sitting in front of the television – they choose to make a difference.
Ask yourself – Are you a cynical and resigned person who believes ki “India ka kuch nahi ho sakta” or are you the one who has the courage to take things in your hands and make a difference in some form.